Reid: Senate can reject Blagojevich's Senate pick

Chris Rizo Jan. 5, 2009, 9:30am



WASHINGTON - Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pick to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat won't likely be accepted, officials said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Sunday that there is legal authority for senators to reject the governor's pick, fellow Democrat and former state Attorney General Roland Burris.

"We determine who sits in the Senate. And the House determines who sits in the House. So there's clearly legal authority for us to do whatever we want to do. This goes back for generations," Reid said in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said he plans to meet Wednesday with Burris, noting that there is a chance for an agreement to be reached even though Burris is a "tainted" appointment because of the governor's federal corruption indictment.

"I'm an old trial lawyer. There is always room to negotiate," Reid said.

On whether Burris will ultimately be seated as Illinois's junior senator, Reid said: "It's going to be very difficult for that to occur."

Blagojevich, who has been accused of conspiring to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder, is facing impeachment. Burris lost statewide primary contests for governor in 1994, 1998 and 2002.

Burris on Friday asked the Illinois Supreme Court to force Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White certify his appointment. He has threatened to sue Senate Democrats if they refuse to swear him in as the upper chamber's only black member.

For her part, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, who tried to have the state Supreme Court oust the governor from office, has said a special election should be held to determine Obama's successor.

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