Eager to put the scandal-tainted standoff behind them, Senate Democrats accepted Roland Burris as President-elect Barack Obama's successor Monday and said they expect to swear in the new U.S. senator from Illinois this week.
"He is now the senator-designate from Illinois and, as such, will be accorded all the rights and privileges of a senator-elect," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said in a joint statement after lawyers determined Burris' paperwork met Senate requirements to be seated.
The two senators said they expect Burris, a former Illinois attorney general, to be sworn in and seated this week, barring objections from Republicans.
The announcement is a major reversal for Senate Democrats. They initially balked at the surprise appointment by embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused by federal investigators of seeking to trade the Senate seat for personal favors, amid fears that any appointee would be tainted.
Blagojevich's office did not have an immediate comment on Monday's decision.
On Sunday, Burris appeared on CBS's Face the Nation, as did Durbin.
Durbin said Sunday that Senate leaders were not stalling to see whether a new appointee could be named if Blagojevich is removed from office.
"To wait until Gov. Blagojevich is removed could be a matter of weeks," Durbin said. "I think Roland Burris' future and fate will be decided before then."
NPR's senior Washington editor, Ron Elving, told All Things Considered Sunday night that Senate Democrats had run out of options despite their objections to seating Burris.
"They're hemmed in. There's really no more legal maneuvering that these Senate Democrats can do," Elving said. "All the legal technicalities that they raised — the possibilities for delay seem to have been exhausted.
From The Associated Press and NPR reports, including Cheryl Corley in Chicago.