“The Energy and Commerce Committee has done groundbreaking work exposing the Solyndra scandal. Chairman Issa has praised Chairman Upton and Chairman Stearns for their committee efforts,” Issa spokesman Jeffrey Solsby said.
“There is no shortage of questions to be answered regarding the Obama administration’s bungling of Solyndra, and every single Member of Congress should be lining up to get those answers. We are working with the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to get to the bottom of this fiasco, and we believe everyone can play a constructive role examining this failed gamble from different angles as taxpayers now find themselves on the hook for this half billion dollar bust,” said Sean Bonyun, an Energy and Commerce spokesman.
The conflict doesn’t appear to have attracted the attention of GOP leaders, with a leadership aide telling Roll Call, “I guess the White House can photocopy those documents” when told of the duplicative requests.
Issa said in his Sept. 19 letter that his request relates to a broader investigation of “improper influence of political appointees on the official business of the U.S. Government.”
“The Oversight Committee’s work is focused on understanding what took place at the Department of Energy as well as other examples throughout the federal government where similar abuses may have occurred,” Solsby said.
The White House formally responded to Upton’s request in an Oct. 14 letter, saying it would continue production of communications between White House officials and three federal agencies but would not supply internal communications among White House officials — the type of documents both Issa and Upton are asking for.
Solsby said the White House separately told Issa that the administration would be providing Issa the same documents it is providing Upton.
In the 112th Congress, there are other examples of Issa becoming involved in Energy and Commerce-led investigations.
On Jan. 20, Upton and Stearns sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services requesting documents regarding the waiver process for the new health care law. Issa followed that with a similar request Feb. 10.
On Feb. 24, Upton and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, sent a letter to the Energy Department asking for information about proposals to dispose of nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nev. On March 11, Issa said in a letter to the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that his panel “is conducting an investigation into the termination of the Yucca Mountain Project.”
Part of the reason for some of the overlap is the oversight panel’s jurisdiction. House rules say the committee “may at any time conduct investigations of any matter.”
A question going forward is how each chairman will respond to the White House telling Upton and Stearns that it won’t fulfill their request.
Both Issa’s Sept. 19 letter and Upton’s Oct. 5 letter are requests — not subpoenas — for documents. Either could issue a Congressional subpoena compelling their release.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.