MADISON, Wis. - Democratic lawmakers who fled the state nearly three weeks ago asked yesterday for a meeting with Gov. Scott Walker to talk about changes to his plan to eliminate most public workers' union rights, a request the governor dismissed as "ridiculous."

Walker said he and his administration have been in communication with a couple of the absent Senate Democrats about a deal that could bring them back, but the Democrat who asked for the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, "is firmly standing in the way."

That accusation led to a flurry of angry responses from Democrats. The sometimes-angry exchange suggested that any resolution to the stalemate was further away than ever.

"Right now, I'm so damn mad at his misrepresentation of the truth and the public should be as well," said Sen. Bob Jauch, one of two Democrats who had talked last week with the Senate Republican leader about possible compromises.

The standoff has placed Wisconsin at the center of a vigorous national debate over the future of union rights. Walker's proposal to balance the state budget remains in limbo because, without any of the 14 Democrats, the Senate does not have enough members present for a quorum.

The senators said pressure is mounting on Walker and the GOP to compromise after weeks of protests that have drawn tens of thousands of people to the Capitol.

In addition, polls show substantial opposition to the governor and his plan, and recall efforts have been launched against Republican senators. Recall efforts have also begun against the Democrats.

"The problem for the Democrats is to figure out how to come back and not be seen as conceding," said Charles Franklin of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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