Program note: Tune in to 360° tonight for more on the drama surrounding Blagojevich’s Senate appointment.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/12/31/senate.appointment/art.gov2.gi.jpg caption="Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris"]
CNN Sr. Congressional Correspondent
WASHINGTON (CNN) Senate Democrats have no choice but to change their tone because Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich “called our bluff” in appointing someone over their objections, a senior Democratic congressional source conceded Wednesday.
“We tried to send a political signal to Blagojevich that we would not seat someone he appointed. He called our bluff, in a reckless way,” said the Democratic source.
A second senior Democratic source said it had clearly become a “heightened situation” that needed to be dealt with and that Burris’ face to face meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Majority Whip Dick Durbin really helped to establish a “person to person dialogue.”
A third senior Democratic source simply demurred that Democrats changed their tone after they “looked more into the situation.”
It is also noteworthy that Reid and Durbin went out of their way, unsolicited, to note this matter was not about race, noting that Burris himself had told them that
In terms of what to expect from this point, Democratic sources say the process they laid out today could take a month – including waiting for the Illinois Supreme Court to rule on the Burris request that it order Illinois Secretary of State Jessie White to sign Burris’s certificate of appointment, then getting Jesse White’s actual signature and then sending the matter to the Senate Rules Committee. The sources said it is entirely possible that before that is done, Blagojevich may no longer be in office, depending on what happens in the Illinois legislature impeachment proceedings, and that an acting governor might then be able to make an appointment. But one source said part of the problem Democrats are having is that the timing on both fronts is really unclear.
If the Illinois Supreme Court forces Jesse White to sign the appointment certificate, Democratic sources say the matter will be immediately taken up by the rules by the Senate Committee so it could look at the same questions as those before the Illinois impeachment proceedings:– whether anything untoward went on with the Burris appointment.
Democrats say they would hold a full Senate vote for basically the same reason.
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