WASHINGTON--A day after the Senate ethics committee handed him a stinging rebuke, Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) on Saturday voted to advance the Democratic health care bill to the Senate floor and then departed for an official visit to Iraq.
Burris--on his first official overseas trip as senator--is traveling with Democrats Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Oregon,Michael Bennett of Colorado and Tom Udall of New Mexico.
Burris "is seeking a firsthand look at security and political developments in the region," according to a release his office sent Sunday. The senators plan to meet with soldiers, "foreign leaders" and security officials. The trip is short; Burris is expected to return by Thanksgiving Day.
Burris, who has not sought much press in recent months--what with ethics investigations hanging over him--will host a conference call Monday from the U.S. Embassy in Baghad. His office is going to try to keep ethics questions off the table. The Burris release said--and the capital letters are from them--"All interested reporters wishing to discuss THIS TOPIC are welcome to call in to hear Senator Burris discuss his findings and to ask related questions."
On Friday, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics issued a "public letter of qualified admonition" for Burris"inconsistent, incomplete and misleading" testimony before Springfield lawmakers about his appointment by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich to the seat once held by President Obama.