Obama's Senate seat may remain vacant for months

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Washington, Dec 20 (ANI): President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat may stay in limbo as impeachment proceedings against Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich could take a number of weeks.

It could be a long time before Illinois again has a second US senator, FOX News reported.

Nearly two weeks after Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges, he remains in office and, technically, retains the ability to appoint President-elect Barack Obama's successor in the Senate.

But Blagojevich's attorney says the governor will not exercise that right. The U.S. Senate has threatened to hold up any candidate he was to name.

And since no legal or legislative attempt to strip that right from the governor has succeeded so far, Obama's seat remains in limbo at least through the start of the 111th Congress on January 3.

"The bottom line ... I think we're at best a couple months away. We're in suspended animation," said Tom Cross, Illinois House Republican leader.

The outraged calls for the ouster of Blagojevich that followed his arrest have been tempered by the slow-and-steady reality of impeachment proceedings.

Though a House panel convened this week to discuss grounds for impeachment, members of the committee say they will do nothing that would interfere with the investigation of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

That means the panel could be limited in the witnesses they can call and, in turn, the allegations they can use to build a case against the governor, FOX News reported.

Cross said that he thinks the lawmakers still can build a credible case off the federal complaint.

He said the Illinois House could take a vote on impeachment before the next session of the General Assembly convenes on January 14. But it could take a number of weeks for the state Senate to then consider the House's action.

At first, it seemed like the governor's refusal to resign would prompt his ouster. But his attorney, Ed Genson, made clear in hearings this week that he will challenge the allegations every step of the way.

Genson most recently said he believes the wire-tapped conversations at the heart of the criminal charges were "illegally obtained." (ANI)

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