The White House is about to get served.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will vote next week on whether or not to deliver a subpoena to the Obama administration regarding sensitive documents pertaining to Solyndra.
GOP Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan and Cliff Stearns of Florida said the subpoena was necessary because the White House has denied its requests for documents. Upton chairs the Energy and Commerce panel, while Stearns leads a subcommittee on investigations. Recently released emails and other documents show that White House officials participated in decisions regarding the Solyndra loan.
"What is the White House trying to hide from the American public?" Stearns and Upton asked in a joint statement. "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."
The panel is seeking documents that might shed light on actions by White House officials in connection with the original 2009 loan to Solyndra as well as a restructuring of the deal that took place earlier this year.
In response to the looming subpoena, the White House announced on Friday afternoon that it is launching an independent investigation on the circumstances of other Energy Department loans. And as has become the norm for this administration, they waited until the last minute on Friday to make the annoucement.
White House officials said the review would assess the health of more than two dozen other loans and loan guarantees made by the Energy Department program that supported Solyndra. Congressional Republicans have been investigating the company'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.
"Today we are directing that an independent analysis be conducted of the current state of the Department of Energy loan portfolio, focusing on future loan monitoring and management," White House chief of staff Bill Daley said. "While we continue to take steps to make sure the United States remains competitive in the 21st century energy economy, we must also ensure that we are strong stewards of taxpayer dollars."
Daley said the review would be conducted by former Treasury official Herb Allison, who oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program, part of the 2008 Wall Street bailout. The review would not look at the Solyndra case but would evaluate other loans worth tens of billions of dollars and recommend steps to stabilize them if they appear to have problems like the loan to Solyndra.
Whether the White House does, eventually hand over the documents in question, or whether the matter is settled in negotiations remains to be seen. But the impending investigations seem to indicate that White House knows it's time to play ball--and that their team is stuck on defense.