Burris may get Illinois Senate seat, say Democrats

U.S. Democratic leaders said Wednesday they are waiting for an Illinois court decision before deciding whether Roland Burris will be allowed to take president-elect Barack Obama's vacant Illinois Senate seat.

U.S. Democratic leaders said Wednesday they are waiting for an Illinois court decision before deciding whether Roland Burris will be allowed to take president-elect Barack Obama's vacant Illinois Senate seat.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid and party whip Dick Durbin spoke to reporters following a 45-minute meeting with Burris in Washington.

Party officials are trying to figure out a way to let Burris take the seat, a day after he was prevented from entering the Senate. Democrats opposed his entry because he was appointed by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell or trade the seat.

Blagojevich faces federal charges for allegedly trying to trade Obama's former seat for money or favours, among other wrongdoing.

Reid said Democrats will wait until the Illinois Supreme Court rules on whether Burris needs the signature of the Illinois secretary of state in order to take office.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has said he won't approve any appointment by Blagojevich and that his signature is mostly ceremonial.

Democrats used the absence of White's signature as the reason to turn Burris away from the chamber Tuesday.

Reid said the lllinois court decision is expected "pretty soon."

Burris told reporters Wednesday he was pleased with his meeting with Reid and Durbin, and expects to take his seat "very shortly."

"My whole interest in this experience is to be prepared" to lead Illinois, Burris said, "and very shortly I will have the opportunity to do that," said Burris.

Obama on Wednesday declined to offer an opinion on whether Burris should be allowed to take the seat, saying it's up to the Senate to decide.

He said he has known Burris for years and would be happy to "work with him" if he ultimately gets seated, but that he can't go further than that.

Last month, Obama issued a statement saying the Senate could not accept the appointment of Burris.

"Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat," Obama said on Dec. 30.

"I believe the best resolution would be for the governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place."

With files from the Associated Press