Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, was invited Thursday to travel from his nation's capital to Canada's to discuss the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and other bilateral economic issues.
The invitation was hand-delivered to Boehner by Canada's ambassador in Washington Gary Doer and Conservative MP Rob Merrifield during a meeting in Boehner's office on Capitol Hill.
Boehner said on his website that he is "grateful" for the invitation and will "make every effort to accept it."
"There's a tremendous opportunity right in front of us to help create jobs and support energy security for the people of both nations. It would be a tragedy if that opportunity were missed because of Washington bureaucracy and politics," Boehner said.
Boehner is a proponent of the Keystone XL pipeline project that would carry crude oil from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The pipeline needs President Barack Obama's approval because it crosses the border. Supporters of the pipeline were hoping for a decision this spring, but in April the administration announced another delay, citing a court case in Nebraska over the route that is still being fought.
Boehner eager to talk with Harper
Boehner noted that the invitation comes on the heels of Ottawa giving a green light to the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
"Canada is our No. 1 trading partner and one of our strongest allies. Partnering with our Canadian friends and neighbours on energy is the most obvious step we can take toward energy security and independence for the American people," Boehner said.
"I'm eager to talk directly with Canadian Prime Minister [Stephen] Harper about the opportunities ahead for our two countries on jobs and energy."
The Keystone XL project is politically contentious on both sides of the border. In the U.S., Obama is under pressure from environmentalists to reject the proposal, while others argue it should be approved because it will create jobs and stimulate the economy.
Republicans have been pushing for approval along with some Democrats from states such as Nebraska where the pipeline would traverse. Some of those Democrats are up for re-election this fall. But other Democrats are steadfastly against Keystone XL.
A Senate committee passed a bill on Wednesday that would bypass Obama and approve building the pipeline, but there's little chance the bill will make it to the Senate floor. Obama could also veto the bill if it ever passed the Democrat-controlled Senate. One legislator described the committee vote as a "cheerleading exercise."
Advertisements bought by the federal government in Ottawa and plastered all over subway stations in Washington also make the argument that the U.S. should get its oil from its friendly and environmentally responsible neighbour to the north rather than foreign sources such as Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.