Landrieu, Alexander spar over Senate gridlock

"Harry Reid would love to bring up important legislation if sometimes Republicans would agree to amendments that were germane or relevant, but Republicans won't even agree to that," Landrieu said.

Alexander replied by noting that not being able to offer amendments was like being invited to perform at Nashville's famed Grand Ole Opry, but "not being allowed to sing."

The back-and-forth dispute colored the senator's otherwise collegial discussion of public charter schools, which Landrieu heralded as essential to the revitalization of New Orleans.

"We're not building the city we were, we're rebuilding the city we always dreamed we could be, and building it just better, the old New Orleans, just better, and that includes a brand new, exciting, entrepreneurial schools system," Landrieu said.

Alexander argued that freeing schools from regulations better helped everyone involved.

"Take off the union rules, the government rules, and let the teachers use their own good judgement on what to do for the kids, let the parents choose the school, and good things happen," Alexander said.

The pair also credited President Obama for a willingness to confront teacher's unions over school performance, and argued they wanted to work with — not against — unions.

"Unions can be part of the reform, there's nothing keeping them from it, it's just a mindset," Landrieu said.