Blagojevich had previously said he was not going to appoint anyone to replace Barack Obama, but the Illinois legislature failed to act on a bill to require a special election to fill the vacant senate seat.
It was an abrupt about-face for Blagojevich, who had said after his Dec. 9 corruption arrest that he favored a special election to find a successor to President-elect Barack Obama. But Blagojevich said he acted after the Democratic-controlled General Assembly declined to approve legislation for a special election.
National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn places the blame for the latest fiasco on the Democrats:
"Responsibility for this latest Constitutional crisis facing the State of Illinois lies at the feet of national and state Democrats, and particularly Senator Reid, who was the first national Democratic leader to oppose a special election. Senator Reid and the Democratic leadership in Washington and Springfield decided to play politics with this Senate seat and unfortunately, the people of Illinois are now paying the price," Cornyn said in a statement.
“It’s time for the Democratic Party to do the right thing. The Senate should refuse to seat Mr. Burris and then Senator Reid, Senator Durbin and all Senate Democrats should join Republicans in supporting a special election to fill this seat. There is no other appropriate way for this process to move forward without the stench of corruption or political gamesmanship attached to it."
Meanwhile, Democrats may be reluctant to oppose Burris because of his race, a factor Blagojevich may have been counting on. Congressman Bobby Rush (Dem) of Chicago came out in support of the Burris nomination.
"Let me just remind you that there presently is no African-American in the Senate...this is just not a state of Illinois matter," Rush said.
"I would ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer," Rush also said. "Roland Burris is worthy."
We'll see how long Reid and his fellow Democrats can stand the pressure of keeping an African American from being seated in the Senate.