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Settling Burris: Strategy or high drama?

From NBC's Ken Strickland
Senate Democrats are gaming out scenarios to address the Roland Burris controversy with the least amount of drama or "school house doors" variety of theatrics.  According to a senior Democratic aide and other sources knowledgeable about the complex Senate rules, the linchpin to their efforts centers on Burris not having the right credentials to be seated as a US Senator -- in other words, incomplete paperwork.

Under Senate rules, the "recommended forms of certificate" for a new senator should include the signature of a state's governor AND Secretary of State.  Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White has said publicly he will not sign Burris' certificate.

The Secretary of the Senate, a Democratic appointee elected by the body, must make the determination if Burris' "certificate of appointment" meets those  requirements.  (The "Secretary" oversees the Senate's day-to-day legislative, financial, and administrative operations.  Republicans fill the position when they hold the majority.)

Here are the possible scenarios:
(#1)  If Burris personally comes to Capitol Hill on Tuesday with his certificate, he would not be allowed on the floor, but instead directed to the office of the Secretary of the Senate who would review his credentials.  Without both signatures, the certificates would be considered incomplete.  Burris would not be seated; in fact, his name would not even be considered on the Senate floor.

(#2) If the Illinois Supreme Court forced Secretary White to sign the certificate or White's name somehow appeared on it, Burris might be allowed on the floor.   But before Burris is called to take the oath from Vice President Dick Cheney, there would likely be an objection, followed by a motion to refer the matter to the Senate Rules Committee.

(#3) Before Cheney administers any oaths, Democrats could offer up a resolution that strikes a middle ground.  It would effectively say the Senate had received paperwork from the governor on Burris' appointment, but that it's unclear if it meets the requirements for certification.  Democrats would then ask the Rules Committee to sort it out.

This (#3) may be the most likely scenario because it serves two fundamental purposes for Democratic leaders.  First, it allows them to acknowledge Burris' appointment without actually seating him.  Democratic leaders could theoretically claim  "we're looking into it."

Secondly, it buys the leadership time. The general thinking is that the matter would be slow-walked in the Democratically controlled Rules Committee long enough for Blagojevich to be impeached. Then, the state's Lieutenant Governor could make an appointment more favorable to Democrats.