The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today advanced H.R. 6213, the "No More Solyndras Act." The committee approved the measure by a bipartisan vote of 29 to 19. Today's vote comes on the heels of yesterday's Wall Street Journal report on Solyndra's chapter 11 plan, that warned, "there's bad news for U.S. taxpayers: Estimates are $24 million of a $527 million government loan will be repaid, and that's not a sure thing."
The "No More Solyndras Act" is a product of the committee's extensive investigation into the Department of Energy's $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, the California solar panel manufacturer that ultimately went bankrupt last summer. The committee's investigation revealed DOE's loan guarantee program to be poorly managed and lacking sufficient safeguards for American taxpayers. In fact, three of the first five companies that received a loan guarantee under Section 1705 have filed for bankruptcy. Chairman Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) authored the legislation to ensure taxpayers are never again on the hook for the administration's risky government bets.
The Act will effectively terminate the mismanaged loan guarantee program by prohibiting any new applications. The legislation will also provide taxpayers with strong new protections for already pending participants, including increased due diligence, new transparency requirements, and the prohibition of taxpayer subordination.
"This bill recognizes both our current fiscal challenges and our understanding that the federal government is ill-suited to be gambling the taxpayers' dollars with this sort of company-specific investment," said Chairman Upton. "We are strong supporters of "all-of-the-above' when it comes to American energy, and our considerable interest in research and development will continue to foster innovation and new technologies."
"Our national debt is approaching $16 trillion, and yet, President Obama wants to continue committing taxpayer dollars to risky "green' jobs scheme," said Stearns. "Solyndra, which cost taxpayers $535 million, is only the first company backed by the White House to go bankrupt in this program, and the "No More Solyndras' Act will protect the American people from further losses."
The committee approved the legislation after adopting amendments from Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and Tim Murphy (R-PA) requiring the Government Accountability Office to complete a study of U.S. and foreign subsidies in energy markets. The committee also adopted an amendment offered by Stearns to reaffirm the prohibition of subordination and an amendment from Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-TX) to increase penalties for senior federal employees and federal appointees who violate any requirements of the Title XVII loan guarantee program.