The House Energy and Commerce Committee voted today along party lines, 14-9, to subpoena internal White House documents relating to a federal loan guarantee for Solyndra, the now-bankrupt solar panel company under investigation by the FBI.
House Republicans have twice requested the documents, but White House officials declined to provide them.
The Obama administration has provided tens of thousands of documents about the loan guarantee to Solyndra, including about 900 pages in documents from the White House composed of communications among White House officials and officials at three federal agencies who had a hand in the Solyndra matter.
But Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) is seeking internal communications among White House officials about Solyndra, documents the White House was not willing to provide voluntarily.
Upton is investigating whether White House officials pressured the Department of Energy to issue the loan guarantee to Solyndra for improper reasons.
The vote came despite a flurry of last-minute negotiations between House GOP officials and Kathryn Ruemmler, a top lawyer to the president, and even White House Chief of Staff William Daley, according to a written statement from the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The vote in the committee authorizes Upton to issue subpoenas but does not include the content of those subpoenas itself.
“Sadly, despite our outreach, the White House still refuses to turn over internal Solyndra-related communications. 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,” Upton and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said in a written statement.
Eric Schultz, a spokesman for President Barack Obama, blasted Upton for the move.
“This administration has cooperated extensively with the committee’s investigation by producing over 85,000 pages of documents, including 20,000 pages produced just yesterday afternoon,” Schultz said. “Administration officials have participated in multiple briefings and hearings, and the White House has also already provided over 900 pages of documents in response to requests we have received. And all of the materials that have been disclosed affirm what we said on day one: This was a merit-based decision made by the Department of Energy.”