Thursday, January 15, 2009

It's Official: Burris Sworn Into Senate,

Replaces Obama

WASHINGTON — Roland Burris took his place as Barack Obama's successor in the Senate on Thursday, ending a standoff that embarrassed the president-elect and fellow Democrats who initially resisted the appointment by scandal-scarred Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"I do," Burris said with a grin as Vice President Dick Cheney administered the oath of office to the former Illinois attorney general who takes Obama's place as the Senate's only black member.

More than a week after his colleagues were sworn in, Burris was seated without objection or a roll call vote, even though Majority Leader Harry Reid had said senators would have their voices heard on whether to accept his appointment.

Illinois delegation members and members of the Congressional Black Caucus joined Democratic and Republican senators in giving Burris a congratulatory standing ovation, handshakes and hugs on the Senate floor.

Senate Democrats wanted to move beyond the distracting controversy and its racial undertones.

Both Reid and Illinois' senior senator, Dick Durbin, smiled broadly and praised Burris in speeches, insisting anew that their previous resistance wasn't about Burris personally but rather about how he was appointed.

"To Senator Burris, on behalf of all senators _ Democrats and Republicans _ we welcome you as a colleague and as a friend," Reid said.