House Panel To Vote On Solyndra Loan Subpoena

The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee plan to subpoena White House documents from various figures in the administration.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A House panel is set to vote Thursday on a plan to subpoena White House documents related to Solyndra Inc., the failed California solar company that received a half-billion-dollar federal loan.

Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee say a subpoena is necessary because the White House has denied or delayed requests for thousands of documents related to Solyndra. The Fremont, Calif., company received a $528 million federal loan before filing for bankruptcy protection in September and laying off 1,100 workers.

A vote on subpoenas for White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Bruce Reed, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, was scheduled for Thursday.

The subcommittee chairman, Florida Rep. Cliff Stearns, and Michigan Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the full committee, met with White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler on Wednesday to discuss the Solyndra case.

"Sadly, despite our outreach, the White House still refuses to turn over internal Solyndra-related communications," Stearns and Upton said in a statement. "We have exercised extraordinary restraint and patience these last eight months in the face of an administration that has fought our efforts to protect taxpayers every step of the way. Our document requests have been reasonable, yet the stalling tactics from the Obama administration have been prodigious."

Congressional Republicans have been investigating Solyndra's bankruptcy amid embarrassing revelations that federal officials were warned it had problems but nonetheless continued to support it and sent President Barack Obama to visit the company and praise it publicly.

An Energy Department spokesman said the administration was cooperating with House investigators and has provided more than 80,000 pages of documents. Damien LaVera said the administration turned over more than 15,000 pages of documents to the committee this week, including about 1,200 pages of communications between the White House and the Energy Department.

In addition to the documents, Energy officials also have participated in a committee hearing and made more than a half dozen officials available for briefings with committee staff since March, LaVera said.

"Despite all the allegations and insinuations, the record shows that the decisions related to this loan we made on the merits after extensive review by the loan program" office, LaVera said.

Among the 1,200 pages of documents the administration released Wednesday were details of a bailout plan considered by the Energy Department that would have provided an infusion of cash to Solyndra and a new board of directors, including two directors appointed by the Energy Department.

Officials rejected the plan, which was recommended in August by the investment banking firm Lazard Ltd. Lazard was paid $1 million for analyzing options related to Solyndra.

Without an infusion of new cash, Lazard wrote in an Aug. 17 memo to the Energy Department, Solyndra was almost certain to fail, which would "likely result in little recovery to the DOE." The department rejected the refinancing plan sometime after Aug. 28, and Solyndra shut its doors on Aug. 31.

The White House announced last week it had ordered an independent review of similar loans made by the Energy Department. The review by former Treasury official Herb Allison will assess the health of more than two dozen other renewable energy loans and loan guarantees made by the Energy Department program that supported Solyndra.

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