The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today approved a draft of the "No More Solyndras Act." The measure passed the subcommittee by a vote of 14 to 6 and now moves to the full committee for consideration, which could be as early as next week. Today's vote came just after the committee released an extensive report on the legality of the Department of Energy's decision to move Solyndra's wealthy investors ahead of taxpayers in the restructuring of the solar company's $535 million loan guarantee. According to the committee's findings, DOE had already agreed on the terms of the restructuring and the preferential treatment of private investors before conducting a legal analysis of whether its actions were in compliance with the law.
Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL) authored the legislation to ensure taxpayers are never again on the hook for risky government bets.
The "No More Solyndras Act," as approved by the subcommittee, will phase out the Department of Energy's mismanaged loan guarantee program and provide taxpayers strong new protections for any pending applications in the program. The legislation provides greater loan guarantee transparency and prohibits DOE from restructuring the terms of any loan guarantee without Treasury consultation. Like current law, the Act also forbids the subordination of U.S. taxpayers' dollars to any other investors.
To offer taxpayers further protection, Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) successfully attached an amendment to the draft legislation that would subject senior federal employees and federal appointees to remedial action, including suspension without pay and removal, for violations of any requirements of the Title XVII loan guarantee program, including the subordination of taxpayers' interests to private investors.
"It is time the federal government quits throwing money at failed programs," Whitfield said. "Solyndra is not the only instance of a loan guarantee recipient going bankrupt that had major administration supporters among its ownership interests. All things considered, three failed companies that received loans is more than enough reason to declare the program a failure and put an end to it. I truly believe that this subcommittee's work to reform the train wreck of costly new EPA regulations would do more to reinvigorate private sector innovation than the Title XVII program as well as other government handouts."
Upton added, "The "No More Solyndras Act' will help protect taxpayers against risky bets like Solyndra and the other stimulus failures where the government ignored red flags and ended up losing hundreds of millions of dollars. With DOE's stimulus record sadly littered with failure, our bill combines new safeguards and a phase-out of the program to ensure that there will be No More Solyndras."
"The Solyndra investigation, and the introduction of the No More Solyndras Act, is a great example of how Congressional oversight should work: ask tough questions, collect all the facts, identify problems, and offer legislative solutions," said Stearns.