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Senate Leadership Weighs Blocking Burris Appointment

After embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's named Roland Burris to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat, Democratic Senate leaders claim they will invoke their constitutional power to block the appointment. Analysts discuss the situation's legal and political implications.

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    And to the showdown over the appointment of Roland Burris to fill President-elect Obama's Senate seat.

    Yesterday, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the Senate's number-two Democrat, Dick Durbin, staked out their positions.

    GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH (D), Illinois: The law requires that the governor make an appointment of a United States senator in the absence of any other law that would have given the people of Illinois a chance to be able to elect the successor to the United States Senate.

    And when the legislature didn't act on the legislation they said they were considering, which I supported, which would have given the people the right to be able to elect the next senator, failing that, then it's the governor's responsibility to fill the vacancy.

    SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), Illinois: On December the 7th, the entire Democratic Senate caucus, all 50, unanimously sent a letter to Gov. Blagojevich making it clear that we would not accept his appointment to fill this vacancy.

    We made it clear, as well, that the only way this vacancy can be filled is if Gov. Blagojevich steps aside and gives that authority to the lieutenant governor under the Illinois constitution.

    Gov. Blagojevich knows that. What we saw today was an act of political defiance, where he is going to try to have his way, despite the fact that the Senate Democratic caucus has stated clearly that it will not seat his choice for this position.