Top Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations announced today that they will move to authorize a subpoena for internal White House communications relating to the failed Solyndra loan.
According to a statement from Reps. Fred Upton (R., Mich.), the full committee chair, and Cliff Stearns (R., Fla.), chairman of the subcommittee, the panel will vote next Thursday, November 3, to consider a motion to subpoena the documents, which the White House has repeatedly refused to turn over.
“The authorization for the subpoena is the next investigative step in ensuring congressional access to documents that are specifically relevant to the Solyndra investigation,” reads a release from the subcommittee. “The meeting comes only after the White House has denied requests for internal White House documents related to Solyndra, refusing to turn over information or engage in discussions with the committee about identifying relevant documents.”
“Subpoenaing the White House is a serious step that, unfortunately, appears necessary in light of the Obama administration’s stonewall on Solyndra,” Upton and Stearns said. “What is the White House trying to hide from the American public? It is alarming for the Obama White House to cast aside its vows of transparency and block Congress from learning more about the roles that those in the White House and other members of the administration played in the Solyndra mess.”
“American taxpayers who are now saddled with a half billion dollar I.O.U. to Uncle Sam deserve to know the truth behind Solyndra. We remain committed to uncovering the facts in an even-handed way, and maintain some hope that the White House will change course and begin to cooperate.”
The moves come after internal documents and e-mails obtained from the Department of Energy, the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget — whether voluntarily or through subpoena — have suggested that the White House played an influential role in the Solyndra loan process. Those documents reveal the involvement of White House staff through their communications with other agencies. Beginning in early October, the subcommittee has issued two formal requests to see internal communications among White House staff relating to Solyndra, both of which were denied.
Among the key officials whose involvement Republicans are seeking to clarify are: former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, former National Economic Council director Larry Summers, Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Biden, as well as President Obama himself.
On Thursday, Upton and Stearns announced that Energy Secretary Steven Chu has agreed to testify before the committee at a Nov. 17 hearing. A look at some of the questions they are likely to ask him.
UPDATE: The White House announced today that it is ordering a review of all loan guarantees awarded by the Department of Energy. Better late than never, I suppose.