Burris sworn in as Obama’s successor

Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., is pinned with his official Senate members pin by his wife Berlean on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, as he took part in a mock swearing-in after the official event on the floor of the Senate. Lauren Victoria Burke, The Associated Press

AP

Sen. Roland Burris, D-Ill., is pinned with his official Senate members pin by his wife Berlean on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday, as he took part in a mock swearing-in after the official event on the floor of the Senate. Lauren Victoria Burke, The Associated Press

By Liz Sidoti

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.

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 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.

Durbin also offered his congratulations before throwing a reception in his new colleague’s honor, saying, “I know this was a rocky road to this great day in his life but a road well traveled.”

Later in a stately parlor off the Senate floor, Burris told his family, friends and a few colleagues that being seated in the Senate was “a dream come true,” and pledged to uphold the Constitution and do his best to represent Illinois. In the crowd were a few Senate Democrats, including John Kerry of Massachusetts, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and Chuck Schumer of New York.

It was a warmer welcome than the one Burris received last week when he showed up on Capitol Hill to be sworn in with his colleagues, only to be turned away into the cold and rain by Senate Democratic leaders who argued that Burris’ appointment wasn’t valid under Senate rules.