WASHINGTON Roland Burris said on Sunday he will return to Washington this week to pursue being sworn in to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat before Obama is inaugurated as president on January 20.
The Senate's second-ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin, said the chamber would try to decide Burris' fate fairly and quickly, without waiting to see whether the embattled official who appointed Burris, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is removed from office.
Burris told CBS' "Face the Nation" that his lawyers will be in the U.S. capital on Monday to meet the Senate parliamentarian, adding that he would follow them to Washington "in a day or two."
"It is our position that we have done everything that's required and that, yes, I should be seated and I should be seated forthwith and I should be seated prior to the inauguration of our -- our 44th president," Burris said.
"I am the junior senator from the state of Illinois. There is no question of my legality of appointment," said Burris, 71, a former Illinois attorney general.
With Obama set to be sworn in as the first black U.S. president on January 20, Burris seeks to replace him as the only black member of the 100-person U.S. Senate.
But Burris was turned away from the Senate last week after the Democratic majority vowed any appointment of Blagojevich's would not stand because of accusations that Blagojevich had tried to sell Obama's seat to the highest bidder.
Blagojevich was impeached by the Illinois state House on Friday and faces a state Senate impeachment trial that could remove him from office. But Burris told an Illinois committee he had made no deals to gain the appointment.
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled on Friday Blagojevich's appointment of fellow Democrat Burris was valid, and Illinois' Secretary of State Jesse White signed a statement certifying Burris' appointment letter was legally filed with the Senate.
Durbin, the Senate's majority whip who also represents Illinois, told "Face the Nation" on Sunday that senators would look at the new documentation from Illinois and examine Burris' testimony to the Illinois committee.
The Senate had the power to block him, but wanted to be fair to Burris, Durbin said.
"To wait until Governor Blagojevich is removed could be a matter of weeks. I think Roland Burris's future and fate will be decided before then," Durbin said.
Burris declined to say whether he would pursue legal action if he was not seated, but said he did not want to make a "scene" or produce some "long, drawn-out legal process."
(Editing by David Wiessler)
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