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Mr. BURGESS. I thank the gentleman for yielding. You know, today's vote culminates a nearly 2-year investigation into how the administration has mismanaged the Department of Energy's loan guarantee program, allowing the loss of $535 million in the interest of gaining a political win on solar energy.
Emails and documents show that the White House and political appointees at the Department of Energy had a heavy hand in pushing the Solyndra application forward despite multiple misgivings, misgivings from the credit committee at the Department of Energy, both in President Bush's administration before and career staff at the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Treasury.
Moreover, when it was clear that by rushing the Solyndra application it actually could result in a very embarrassing bankruptcy for the President, the Department of Energy pushed for a questionable legal move that actually subordinated the taxpayer interests below that of private equity interests, a move that we have now seen will result in the complete annihilation of the $535 million from the perspective of the taxpayer.
But one of the glaring issues that the investigative committee uncovered was that because no penalties existed in the 2005 loan guarantee authorization, officials at the Department of Energy had nothing to fear in actually breaking the law as it was written by our committee and passed by this Congress.
Indeed, the Department of Energy intentionally hid its head in the sand refusing to consult with either Department of Energy or Department of Justice for an outside reading on whether subordination could be a legitimate option. Instead, Department of Energy stopped an outside law firm's analysis, created a tortured memo justifying what they had already decided they would do, that is, place taxpayer dollars below the interests of private equity.
For this reason, I welcomed the opportunity to work with Chairman Upton and Chairman Stearns to add explicit language to provide for penalties for those officials who violate the terms of the authorization which created the loan guarantee program. It is time that those in the agency that dole out millions of dollars and choose to ignore the law be held accountable.
Indeed, the public understands this concept very well. Any employee in the private sector who ignores their boss's instructions and loses millions of dollars in company money is going to face immediate sanctions, including losing their job. No one has lost their job over Solyndra.
Public employees should be no different from private employees. This is an important bill. Today's vote will be a win for every citizen concerned about good government and our fiscal future. It's time to end failed government programs that are driving us over a fiscal cliff. This is a major step in the right direction.
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