UPDATE: That didn't take long. Harry Reid announces a tentative deal.
Why the hell did it take them five long years to get to this point? Harry Reid is such a mouse, and I'm still not convinced there won't be a last-minute
(Reuters) - U.S. senators failed to reach a deal on Monday to avert a showdown over President Barack Obama's executive-branch nominees and threats by Democrats to strip Republicans of their power to block such nominations with procedural hurdles known as filibusters.
Emerging from a meeting of all 100 senators that lasted more than three hours, Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said talks would go on. But it was unclear if the two sides would find common ground before Tuesday's scheduled votes on seven nominees.
"We've had a very good conversation," Reid told reporters. "The conversation is going to continue."
Reid has said that unless all seven nominees are confirmed, Democrats were prepared to ignite "the nuclear option," an unprecedented procedural power play to change the rules on filibusters.
Democrats, who control the Senate 54-46, have said their aim would be to reduce to 51 from the current 60 the number of votes needed to end filibusters against executive branch nominees.
Such action would cap years of Senate partisan battles and paralysis, and likely trigger even more fights and gridlock between Obama's Democrats and Republicans.
"For a time, I think we will grind to a halt," warned Republican Senator John McCain.
At Monday's meeting, members urged Reid and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to keep talking to each other.
"I think the foundation is to try and find a path forward," said Republican Senator John Boozman. "It's not there yet."
Democratic Senator Chris Coons said, "Joint caucus (meeting) was constructive, respectful and deliberate. Didn't reach a deal, but I think we made progress understanding each other."