Wicker seeks compromise on ‘nuclear option’

Triggering an unusually personal clash, Democrats threatened Thursday to change Senate rules unilaterally if Republicans block yes-or-no votes on several of President Barack Obama’s top-level nominees, including some long in confirmation limbo.

A series of showdown votes was set for next week on seven appointees. But in classic Senate fashion, as the rhetoric grew more intense, the two sides constructed an escape hatch in the form of a rare private meeting set for Monday evening where all 100 senators can seek a compromise out of public view.

As the leaders clashed, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., proposed that Republicans and Democrats meet next week to try and reach a compromise. The session will likely be held in an ornate room where the Senate met before the current chamber was built, an arrangement that permits lawmakers to bar the public and the press.

According to Senate records, the most recent such meeting was in January 2007 — when Reid and McConnell wanted to improve working relations among all 100 senators.