House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress was a breach of protocol, the White House has said.
The Republican leader invited Mr Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress on the “grave threats” posed by Iran and radical Islam.
The formal invite was sent just hours after President Barack Obama threatened in his annual State of the Union address to veto legislation that would scuttle diplomatic negotiations over Iran’s nuclear programme.
Mr Boehner said: “He (Mr Obama) expects us to stand idly by and do nothing while he cuts a bad deal with Iran.
“Two words: ‘Hell no!’ … We’re going to do no such thing.”
The Speaker invited Mr Netanyahu to speak before Congress on 11 February.
On Wednesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration was reserving judgment about the invitation until they had a chance to speak to the Israelis.
He added, however, that typical protocol dictates that a country’s leader would contact the White House before planning to visit the United States.
Mr Obama has warned that rash action by the new Republican-controlled Congress would increase the risk of a military showdown with Iran.
On Tuesday night, he said: “New sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails – alienating America from its allies, and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear programme again.
“It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress.”
Mr Boehner, meanwhile, is hoping to enlist Mr Netanyahu as a powerful messenger who could argue for a tougher stance toward Iran.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is a great friend of our country, and this invitation carries with it our unwavering commitment to the security and well-being of his people,” the Speaker said in a news release.
Mr Netanyahu has addressed a joint meeting of Congress on two previous occasions, in July 1996 and May 2011.