Four years after winning election to the United States Senate, President-elect Barack Obama announced today that he is formally resigning his seat effective Sunday, which means he won't be on Capitol Hill for key upcoming votes.
Obama will miss the expected vote by Senate Democrats next week on whether Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who broke ranks and campaigned for Senator John McCain this year, should keep his post as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Obama has urged Senate leaders to find a compromise solution and wants Lieberman to continue caucusing with the Democrats, The Washington Post reported this week.
Obama's resignation from the Senate also means that he will not be a voting member during its special session next week, when Democrats hope to pass a new economic stimulus package to recharge the ailing economy. Obama has made the passage of a new stimulus bill a high priority, but the measure has been held up by President Bush and Senate Republicans.
In a statement, Obama, who today continued meetings with his presidential transition team in Chicago, said that serving the people of Illinois had been "one of the highest honors and privileges of my life."
"In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who've taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children's future," Obama said. "It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation's next president."
Obama's election as president has set off furious jockeying among Illinois politicos looking to succeed him as the state's junior senator. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will choose Obama's successor, who would serve the remaining two years of Obama's term. US Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. is believed to be among the leading contenders for the job.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.