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Seeking Representation -- but Probably Not From Burris

The beleaguered Sen. Roland Burris is demanding voting rights for citizens in the nation's capital.
The beleaguered Sen. Roland Burris is demanding voting rights for citizens in the nation's capital. (By Richard A. Lipski -- The Washington Post)
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By Dana Milbank
Thursday, February 26, 2009

Here is the good news for D.C. residents: You have a new friend in the U.S. Senate.

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Ready for the bad news? His name is Roland Burris.

The Democrat from Blagojevich, rejecting urgings from his Senate colleagues and home-state officials to resign, took to the Senate floor yesterday to demand voting rights for citizens in the nation's capital.

"Mr. President, I rise to [pause] support the District of Columbia [pause] House vote [pause] vote [pause, clearing of throat] rights act," he began. In his three-minute-and-nine-second speech, he went on to proclaim that "America is a model of democracy around the world."

Of course, Burris and his home state of Illinois have been a rather different sort of model in recent weeks, as the senator has come to revise his claims that he had nothing to do with the now-impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his pay-to-play schemes.

But Burris did not have time to ponder this irony. After his speech, he had to take his place in the presiding officer's chair on the Senate floor.

"Mr. President!" Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) called to Burris.

"Mr. President!" Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) addressed Burris.

Acting Senate President Burris played his parliamentary role with pizazz. "Without objection, so ordered! . . . The amendment is not agreed to. . . . The clerk will call the roll." The chamber went into a lengthy quorum call, and Burris spent the better part of an hour yawning, consulting his watch, gazing out at the empty chamber, scratching his temple and running his finger up and down the columns of a Senate membership list.

"I'm very upbeat," the senator announced as he made his way back to his office after a vote yesterday.

But isn't he frustrated that pretty much everybody wants him to quit? "I don't have time to be frustrated -- I'm running from meeting to meeting," he shot back. "I'm a senator, and I'm doing my job." With a parting "God bless you," he hopped onto a senators-only elevator.

Back home in Illinois, Burris has already inscribed his mausoleum with credentials such as "President of the National Association of State Comptrollers." But now he can chisel in new achievements:


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