By DAVID ESPOAP Special Correspondent
WASHINGTON (AP) - A showdown approaching, the Senate's top party leaders clashed in unusually personal terms on Thursday over the confirmation - or lack of it - of President Barack Obama's top-level appointments.
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., went first, saying Republican obstruction is denying Obama the right to have his team in place. He added it could be said that Republican leader Mitch McConnell had broken his word about permitting confirmations.
"An agreement is a two-way street," Reid said, citing a McConnell promise to move ahead on nominations. "Those were his words. Those were his commitments. Those were his promises. By any objective standard, he has broken them."
McConnell accused Democrats of attempting a power grab, and added that Reid had misquoted him. He ticked off a list of nominees who were confirmed and labeled the situation a "phony crisis."
The Republican leader warned Reid about "sacrificing his reputation and the institution." McConnell said Reid would understand "if he spent a little more time working with his colleagues in a collegial way and a little less time trying to undermine and marginalize them."
As McConnell railed about Reid, the Nevada Democrat sat a few feet away, looking through some papers. A handful of Republicans senators were in the chamber for the remarks.
Reid has threatened to change the Senate's rules to eliminate the possibility of a filibuster against presidential appointments.
At issue are stalled nominations to head the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor, the National Labor Relations Board and appeals court judges.
Looking to avert the showdown, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., proposed that Republicans and Democrats meet Tuesday in the old Senate chamber and try to work out their differences.
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