Republicans on a House panel voted Thursday to subpoena internal White House documents related to Solyndra
, the bankrupt California solar power company, a move the Washington Post
calls "apparently unprecedented." The 14-9 vote fell strictly along party lines, and was driven by GOP suspicions that a $535 million federal loan guarantee Solyndra received in 2009 may have been politically motivated.
Democrats in Congress and the White House had been fighting to prevent the subpoena, countering that the GOP's investigation itself is politically motivated. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., called it a "sad day" for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, describing the vote as "an act of irresponsible partisanship." DeGette and other Democrats point out the Obama administration has already handed over thousands of pages of files on Solyndra, an effort that continued Wednesday.
Administration officials met with GOP leaders Wednesday afternoon, Politico
reports, bringing along 15,000 new pages of Energy Department documents, raising the total disclosed so far to more than 80,000.
But that didn't satisfy House Republicans like Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, who wants to see internal messages from a variety of current and former White House aides, including senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, former chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel and former National Economic Council Director Larry Summers. He also wants to look at messages on Obama's Blackberry in case any of them address Solyndra. "If the White House has nothing to hide, they should cooperate with this investigation and produce the documents," Stearns said at a panel meeting Thursday. "I believe the president owes it to the American people to explain in detail what happened to their tax money."
The Obama administration, however, argues it has already handed over enough documents in the case. After Thursday's vote, White House spokesman Eric Schultz suggested the Solyndra inquiry is distracting lawmakers from more pressing matters. "We'd like to see as much passion in House Republicans for creating jobs as we see in this investigation," Schultz said. "The White House has been clear with the committee that we are willing to cooperate with legitimate oversight requests that are tailored to balance the important institutional interests of both branches. We are disappointed that the committee has refused to discuss their requests with us in good faith, and has instead chosen a partisan route, proceeding with subpoenas that are unprecedented and unwarranted."
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