Springfield (Illinois, US), Dec.16 (ANI): Lawmakers in Illinois have taken the first step towards activating impeachment proceedings against State Governor Rod Blagojevich, who has been accused of trying sell the Senate seat vacated by US President-elect Barack Obama.
Illinois lawmakers descended on the state capital of Springfield Monday to consider whether to hold a special election to fill Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.
Fox News said legislators kicked off the special session, even as some Democrats in the Illinois House sought to block action on the special election.
House Speaker Michael Madigan said Democratic members were split over whether such an election is appropriate, and said no legislation would be considered until all members come to an agreement.
Meanwhile, House members have created a special committee to review a resolution that would formally start the impeachment process.
The committee will work every day except holidays, Speaker Madigan said Monday at a press conference.
Once the committee comes up with a recommendation on whether cause exists for impeachment, Madigan said, the full House will decide whether to file such charges against the governor. The Senate ultimately would rule on them.
The panel would include 12 Democrats and nine Republicans.
Madigan said lawmakers have been reviewing grounds for impeachment for about a year and that he "was not surprised" by the charges against Blagojevich.
The governor, meanwhile, returned to work Monday and continued to ignore calls for his ouster.
Monday's special session of the General Assembly was the first since the governor's arrest last week. But questions about the proposed special election seemed to imperil its chances.
Election officials statewide say they don't have the money to pay for a special election.
Officials have floated statewide cost projections between 30 million dollars and 50 million dollars -- running individual counties anywhere from tens of thousand of dollars to as much as eight million dollars in Cook County's Chicago suburbs. Chicago's expenses could hit 16 million dollars.
Opponents of a special election say it would cost tens of millions of dollars and not produce a new senator until April.
The calls for impeachment put the spotlight on Madigan, who ultimately will decide the timing of any impeachment effort.
Madigan's daughter, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, has asked the state Supreme Court to remove Blagojevich from office, claiming he is unfit to serve.
Lisa Madigan said Sunday she expects word from the court "probably just in a few days."
Attorney General Madigan is considered one of the top Democratic candidates for governor in 2010.
The state constitution gives lawmakers broad authority to impeach a governor for any reason they consider sufficient. (ANI)