a two-minute speech from the Senate floor in support of a voting
rights bill, then presided over the Senate for an hour, a tradition
for freshman. He was scheduled to spend another hour with the Senate
gavel later in the evening.
"Allow these 600,000 residents to become full citizens," Burris told
a virtually empty Senate chamber in support of a bill that would
give a congressional seat to Washington, D.C.
Engaging in the mundane task of presiding over the Senate was the
latest sign on Wednesday that Burris is hunkering down, despite
calls for his ouster.
Burris has been under fire since new revelations about how he was
appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
Burris was appointed by disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who
was impeached and driven from office after he was accused of trying
to sell the Senate seat. Burris has changed his story multiple
Earlier in the day Burris announced that Brady King, a former aide
to Rep. Chet Edwards, D-Texas, and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass,
would take over as his chief of staff, and that Jim O'Connor, a
veteran Illinois political operative, would be his communications
"He's working. He's in the process of getting back to work and back
on track," O'Connor said.
Burris arrived alone at the Senate chamber for his speech, walking
quietly to his seat as Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., spoke. He narrowly
missed an encounter with Sen. Dick Durbin, who on Tuesday told
Burris he should resign. Durbin walked out just before Burris
Burris looked around once he got to his desk, waiving eagerly at
Sen. Joe Lieberman, who rose to get a piece of candy. Lieberman
motioned for Burris to wait a minute then walked over and spoke with
[to top of second column]
After giving his
speech, Burris slumped in his chair, glancing at a briefing book and then
several times looking at his watch. Just before 5 p.m. he passed a note to Sen.
Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, who presided before him, then gestured that he would
like to take over.
Merkley quickly obliged without speaking.
Once he took the Senate
president's seat, Burris fidgeted with his microphone,
clasped and unclasped his hands and occasionally rocked back and forth. He
appeared to navigate Senate protocol with minimal fuss during his time in
When his time was up, he gave his replacement, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, a pat
on the back and exchanged pleasantries.
By HENRY C. JACKSON]
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