WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama invited the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives to the White House on Wednesday for a meeting on Iraq, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
A White House official confirmed the meeting, describing it as part of Obama's "ongoing consultations" with congressional leaders on foreign policy issues, including Iraq.
The Republican lawmakers said they hoped Obama would spell out a plan for Iraq.
"We spent years, vast sums of money, and - most importantly - thousands of American lives to improve Iraqâs security and make America safer. Squandering that legacy would be a tragic mistake," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner.
Obama administration officials have been holding a series of classified briefings for members of Congress about the situation in Iraq as they finalize a strategy for dealing with the crisis there.
But congressional leaders noted that Obama is not legally required to obtain permission from Congress before taking action.
On Monday, Obama told Congress in a letter that the U.S. is deploying up to 275 military personnel to Iraq as support and security for U.S. interests.
The letter said the troops are equipped for combat, if that becomes necessary. Obama also kept open the option of U.S. airstrikes to help Iraq combat insurgents who have made alarming gains in the past week.
On Tuesday during a battle for a provincial capital, scores of Iraqis were killed, and fighting shut the main oil refinery, starving parts of the country of fuel and power.
Government forces said they repelled an attempt by insurgents to seize Baquba, capital of Diyala province north of Baghdad, in heavy fighting overnight.
Some residents and officials said the dead included scores of prisoners from the local jail, although there were conflicting accounts of how they had died.
Also Tuesday, Iraqi Shi'ite and Sunni political leaders made a joint call for national unity after a closed-door meeting called after a week of sectarian violence that saw Sunni militants seize northern cities.
The leaders, including Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, and Sunni Usama al-Nujaifi, the last speaker of parliament which dissolved this month, stood apart and listened as Maliki's predecessor Ibrahim al-Jafaari called for "defending the state and protecting its sovereignty and dignity."
They also called for avoiding sectarian grievances and forbade non-state actors from carrying weapons.