Burris Credential Rejected by Senate Parliamentarian

Roland Burris is not a senator-designate in the eyes of the Senate.

ByABC News
January 5, 2009, 11:18 AM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2009— -- Though the Senate parliamentarian today formally rejected Roland Burris' claim to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, the former Illinois attorney general remained adamant that the seat is his.

"I am going there to be seated. I am the junior senator from the state of Illinois," Burris told reporters as he arrived at Chicago's Midway Airport on his way to Washington.

Burris also said the law is on his side, despite the parliamentarian's move.

"I'm not bothered by that because the appointment is legal," he said. "Why don't you all understand that what has been done here is legal? That's legal. I am the junior senator from Illinois, and I wish my colleagues in the press would recognize that."

The credential rejection is the first formal step toward the Senate rejecting Burris' appointment by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The governor, who is accused of trying to sell the spot vacated by the president-elect, has cast a shadow over the appointment. But Burris said he doesn't feel the need to distance himself from Blagojevich.

"I don't have to separate myself from Rod Blagojevich," he said. "He carried out his duties and he filled a vacancy as according to law. Isn't that correct? Isn't that what the statute says? That this governor shall appoint a person to fill the vacancy. It didn't say anything about being tainted. ... This is all politics and theater. But I am the junior senator according to every law book in the nation."

The Senate parliamentarian, a nonpartisan employee of the Senate who advises on issues concerning rules of order, ruled the credential was not valid after it was presented to the secretary of the Senate on the third floor of the Capitol Building by Clayton Harris, Blagojevich's acting chief of staff.

Harris said he brought it to the Senate staff in person, even though it was expected that it would be rejected.

"My role here is to do everything I can to make sure the state of Illinois continues to function," Harris said. "The first priority is getting the great state of Illinois all of its representation in Congress."