Most Republicans in the U.S. Senate have been quiet about the controversy surrounding the man appointed to out-going Illinois Senator Barack Obama’s seat, but Senator Chuck Grassley this week said it’s important for the senate to follow the "rule of law." Democrats reversed course mid-week and cleared the way for Roland Burris — the pick of the embattled Illinois governor — to be seated as Obama’s replacement.
Grassley this week indicated that’s probably the right path to pursue. "The Supreme Court made a decision in roughly 1970 in the Adam Clayton Powell case that said that as long as a member meets age, residence and citizenship qualifications, the House of Representatives — that case — couldn’t deny him a seat," Grassley said during a telephone conference call this week.
According to Grassley, Burris — a Democrat — has a "perfect right" to be the next junior senator from Illinois. "We Republicans were advocating a special election, but that can’t be done only by the Illinois legislature setting it up," Grassley said, "If that isn’t going to be done, I don’t see how you select a senator except by governor appointment."
The top Republican in the senate has said it is the "unanimous Republican view" that the situation involving the Illinois senate seat is a "an ethnically-tainted, challenging mess" in which Republicans don’t want to become entangled.
Iowa’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Tom Harkin, has called Burris "clean as a whistle" and said Wednesday that "basically, (Burris) should have been seated" as a U.S. Senator when he arrived at the capitol on Monday. Under a deal worked out Wednesday, Burris will be sworn in as a U.S. Senator if the Illinois Secretary of State signs his appointment papers and Burris clears an Illinois state senate committee and the U.S. Senate’s Rules Committee.
(Shane McBryde of KBUR in Burlington contributed to this story.)