New US Senate sworn in amid bitter feuding
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The US Senate was sworn in on Tuesday amid deep divisions among Democrats as party members blocked the appointment of Roland Burris (pictured), Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's choice to replace President-elect Barack Obama.
REUTERS - Roland Burris proclaimed himself the new junior senator from
Burris' path into the Senate was blocked on Tuesday by top Democrats who have resisted his appointment by the state's scandal-stained Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The dispute over Burris, who was named to replace President-elect Barack Obama, threw a distracting shadow over celebrations by Democrats, who were starting work in a new Congress with an increased majority and looking forward to having a fellow Democrat in the White House on Jan. 20.
Blagojevich was arrested last month on charges of trying to sell the Obama Senate seat -- charges he has denied -- and Democrats took a dim view of his subsequent naming of Burris to fill the seat.
But Sen. Dianne Feinstein of
Burris was to meet on Wednesday with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of
Reid said earlier this week without elaboration that there's always room to negotiate on seating Burris.
As new senators prepared to be sworn in on Tuesday, Burris, who would be the only black member of the 100-seat chamber, stood in the rain across the street from the Capitol.
"My name is Roland Burris. I am the junior senator from the state of
But the secretary of the Senate did not see it that way, having just advised Burris that his credentials were not in order to be seated in the 111th Congress. Burris said he was referring the matter to his lawyers.
But the party that has billed itself as bringing ethics back to Congress after a string of Republican scandals during eight years under President George W. Bush now wants no part of anything related to Blagojevich.
Moves are under way in the
Blagojevich said in a statement in
Burris, who was formally blocked because his Senate application was not signed by
He has asked the Illinois Supreme Court for a quick decision on his request that the secretary of state be required to sign a certificate declaring him a
Congressional leadership aides acknowledged there was some question whether there is a legal need for certification, leaving the dispute in murky territory.
Democrats had planned to swear in comic-turned politician Al Franken of
But they put off plans to seat Franken, yielding to Republican threats that they would block his swearing in.
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