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Congress Now in Session—Without an Obama Replacement

to the integrity of process and puts him in an unfortunate position as well,” says Shelton.

But Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, who has been an ardent supporter of Burris since Blagojevich named him, has charged that this is about race. “It’s an embarrassment to the American people, the Senate and the House. Something is drastically wrong when you have the Senate trying to inculcate taint as a constitutional principle; there’s no precedent for this. I believe that if Burris was of any other race, he would be seated,” says Rush. “I base that on the fact that right now in the Senate there are three Hispanics and two Asians, but no African Americans. Someone should ask and someone should answer why at this moment in history the Senate is denying, based on some non-constitutional case, the opportunity for one African American to be seated in the U.S. Senate.”

During a news conference outside of the Capitol, Burris told a mob of reporters and photographers that he’s not looking for controversy and will work with his lawyers to determine his next step. If he is eventually seated, Burris is expected to join the Congressional Black Caucus.

The CBC will hold its first meeting of the new session on Wednesday and will likely issue a formal statement regarding Burris’s predicament. New York Rep. Gregory Meeks says that despite Blagojevich’s personal legal problems, Burris is not complicit in any of that and the governor has rightfully discharged his constitutional duty. “Burris was the first African American to win office statewide [in Illinois],” adds Meeks. “He’ll have two years to prove himself through his work in the Senate and if he does that, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be re-elected.”


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