By Russell Berman - 02/29/12 07:23 PM EST
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) left a White House meeting Wednesday with President Obama and other congressional leaders “hopeful” and “encouraged” that Democrats might consider energy and jobs bills passed by the Republican-controlled House, his office said.
Boehner met for an hour over lunch with Obama, Vice President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
The Speaker has sharply criticized the Obama administration’s energy policy, denouncing the president’s opposition to building the entire Keystone XL oil pipeline and blaming him for rising gas prices.
Yet the meeting was a sign that, amid persistent partisan acrimony in Washington, both parties see a benefit in trying to advance some bipartisan legislation.
The leaders discussed areas of common ground in job creation, including a package of House GOP small-business bills that the White House has embraced.
“The Speaker was encouraged by what the president had to say about the JOBS Act,” a Boehner aide said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama described the meeting as “constructive” and “cordial.”
Carney said the president thought it would be useful to have the meeting after Congress acted on the payroll tax cut extension. It was “an opportunity for the president to talk about other areas where we can cooperate,” he said.
Boehner brought up the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and its recommendations for expanding domestic energy production. He noted House passage of a number of those proposals and urged Obama to act on his council’s recommendations.
“The Speaker told the leaders that these ideas are good for American energy, as well as creating new American jobs, and he was encouraged by the president’s response,” Boehner’s office said in a formal readout of the meeting.
McConnell largely echoed Boehner’s sentiment in a statement released by his office.
“[McConnell] had a good, substantive discussion with the president, vice president, and the bicameral leadership and was encouraged that Senate Democrats appear willing to begin moving on at least some of the bipartisan, House-passed jobs bills that have been gathering dust in the Senate,” office said in the statement. “But he noted that much more can and should be done, and that Republican sponsors for these bills are waiting for the Senate to act.”
— This story was updated at 2:41 p.m.
— Amie Parnes contributed to this story.