Friday, January 16, 2009
Burris was initially not admitted into the Senate, even though Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich appointed him to the position, due to allegations that the governor tried to sell the seat. Blagojevich was arrested and has been impeached for the alleged crime. Burris was denied his position on January 6 by other Democratic members of the Congress because his appointment papers were not signed by Jesse White, the Illinois Secretary of State, who had refused to sign his name due to the charges faced by Blagojevich.
Burris was officially sworn in by United States Vice President Dick Cheney with no objections from other members of the Congress. Harry Reid, the senior Democratic senator from Nevada and majority leader, who had led the opposition to Burris being appointed, welcomed him into the Senate.
“On behalf of all senators, Democrats and Republicans, we welcome you as a colleague and a friend,” Reid said.
“No one’s ever had anything against Sen. Burris. Like any other senator, he’ll have to learn the ropes and not get lost getting to committee hearings, like I have. I think he’ll come in with people open to meeting with him and getting to know him. I think it will be just fine,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota on the matter. Most other comments by senators stated that they were not against Burris as a person, but were against his appointment by Rod Blagojevich.
With the appointment, Burris becomes the only African-American member of the United States Senate. This makes the count of Democrats to Republicans in the Senate 58 Democrats and 41 Republicans, with the final seat waiting on a vote recount ordered by Norm Coleman in his loss to Al Franken of Minnesota.