Senators are preparing for a potentially rancorous day today as Democrats say they may change filibuster rules to keep Republicans from blocking White House nominees for top executive jobs.

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) walks with an aide to a Senate joint caucus meeting (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Several Senate votes are scheduled to test whether Republicans will allow simple-majority confirmations of a handful of President Barack Obama's long-stalled nominations. Majority Leader Harry Reid proposes to end the ability of 41 senators in the 100-member chamber to block action on White House nominations other than judges.

Some Democrats fear Republicans will retaliate if they become the majority in a future election.

A rare, three-hour private meeting of nearly all 100 senators Monday night failed to resolve the tensions. Some senators held out hope for a breakthrough early Tuesday.

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