- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SENATE

Burris swearing-in set for Thursday

Senate appointee Roland Burris will be sworn into office Thursday, his office said, closing a painful and protracted certification process ensnared in the federal corruption investigation of Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

Senate Democrats have reversed course, grudgingly accepting the former Illinois attorney general into their exclusive club as the person who will replace the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.

“I really never doubted that I would be seated,” Mr. Burris said in a nationally broadcast television interview Tuesday. “It was just a matter of going through the process and making sure that the Senate rules were abided by.”

Asked about any role that Mr. Obama might have played in softening the opposition to his seating by Senate Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Richard J. Durbin, Mr. Burris said, “I have no knowledge of what the president-elect did.”

WHITE HOUSE

Uribe, Howard, Blair get medals

President Bush has given the United States’ highest civilian award to three foreign leaders who have been among his most loyal partners on the world stage.

Mr. Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and to two former leaders: former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Australian Prime Minister John Howard. The awards come just one week before Mr. Bush leaves office.

The president himself clasped the medals around each man’s neck after a military aide read citations in the leaders’ honor.

Prior to the ceremony for the three leaders, Mr. Bush had awarded 78 medals during his tenure in office.

FOUNDATION

Clinton resists more disclosure

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice for secretary of state, rejected calls Tuesday for more details about donors to her husband’s foundation, saying she has revealed enough to avoid even the hint of conflicts.

An Associated Press review found that Mrs. Clinton stepped in at least a half-dozen times on issues involving businesses and others who later gave to the charity.

Mrs. Clinton said as secretary of state she will not be influenced by her husband’s contributors, which include foreign governments.

“It will not be in the atmosphere,” Mrs. Clinton said.

Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana was among Republican senators on the Foreign Relations Committee pressing for full transparency about contributors to the William J. Clinton Foundation and one of its main projects, the Clinton Global Initiative.

INTELLIGENCE

GOP protests panel’s alignment

Democrats plan to increase their numbers on the House Intelligence Committee, a move that Republicans charge breaks the majority party’s promise to implement 9/11 commission recommendations.

That report, issued in 2004 when the Republicans controlled Congress, recommended a complete overhaul of the “dysfunctional” House and Senate intelligence committees. Included in the broader change was a recommendation that the revised committees only have a one-member numerical difference between parties.

When it was created in 1977, the House intelligence committee reflected the party ratio of the full chamber, according to the Congressional Research Service. Additional members have been added on both sides, bringing the two parties into closer alignment on the committee. The Senate intelligence committee already adheres to the one-member majority rule.

The House committee currently has 12 Democrats and nine Republicans. That will change to 13-8 in the new Congress, according to House Republicans.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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