Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

No More Solyndras Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. DeGETTE. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

During my time in Congress, one important lesson that I've learned is that good oversight results in good legislation, and biased and partisan oversight results in biased and partisan legislation. The No More Solyndras Act is a good example of that rule. It's bad legislation born of part biased and partisan oversight.

The Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, on which I sit as ranking member, investigated the Solyndra loan in excruciating detail, but after 18 months, 300,000 pages of documents, 14 interviews with key officials, five hearings, and three subpoenas, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have failed to prove any of their inflammatory accusations that they've leveled at the administration. Instead, they simply repeat one unproven allegation after another, trying to score political points, ignoring key exculpatory evidence, and making misleading accusations about the Solyndra loan based on cherry-picked evidence.

Now, the loan guarantee program was actually developed in 2005 as part of the Energy Policy Act by the Bush administration. It was developed with the thought that as we look at development of domestic energy sources like oil and gas, we should also look at development of alternative energy sources like wind and solar. So this program was passed by a Republican Congress, with a Republican President in the White House, in order to do such a thing.

It's important to note that the Solyndra loan, the first application was made under the Bush administration. It was then funded under the Obama administration. What happened was, once this loan was thoroughly vetted by the career employees at the Department of Energy and funded, the market conditions changed. China decided to flood the market with cheap solar panels, causing Solyndra's business model to change.

Now, the career employees--many of whom had been there under a Republican and Democratic administration at the Department of Energy--had a decision to make: they could walk away from $500 million of U.S. taxpayer money or they could try to restructure the loan in the hope of recovering that money, and that was the decision that they made. The facts simply do not support the over-the-top allegations that there was anything wrong with this decision.

Now, let me be clear, Mr. Chairman, my job is not to defend the administration. If something improper occurred on this loan, I would want to know about it, and I would want to expose it. But what the evidence showed is that the career officials and the Bush and Obama administration appointees who worked on the loan told our investigators that political considerations played no role in the decisions on Solyndra.

They told us that there was no improper pressure to rush key decisions on the loan, to approve the loan, or to change the terms of the loan. Each and every one of these officials confirm that there were no corners cut in the process and that decisions were made purely on the merits.

As David Frantz, a career civil servant who has served as Director of the loan guarantee program since 2007 under the Bush administration, said:

..... through the whole history of the program, from its inception to today, it has not been driven by any political considerations whatsoever.

But the Republicans ignored the evidence before the committee and they repeatedly made insinuations that were simply not correct. For example, my Subcommittee Chairman Stearns claimed that the committee's investigation:

..... reveals a startlingly cozy relationship between wealthy donors and the President's confidants, especially in matters related to Solyndra.

But this statement is exactly the opposite of what the committee found. Chairman Stearns was referring to unproven allegations of White House political favoritism on behalf of the Solyndra investor George Kaiser, a supporter of President Obama.

But the committee interviewed two key White House decisionmakers, Adi Kumar and Heather Zichal, about their interaction with Mr. Kaiser. The committee learned that at the time the Solyndra loan was being reviewed, neither of these officials had any knowledge of Mr. Kaiser's support for the President, nor did they have any role in the substantive decisions about the loan. These are the key officials Republicans claimed were at the center of the White House's improper activities, and yet they had no knowledge of Mr. Kaiser's political support and no involvement in the decisions on the loan.

These facts directly contradict the allegations that we've been seeing repeatedly in the press for these many months, and they contradict the findings in the bill that we're debating today. That's why I have an amendment which will come up in a few minutes to strip some of the inaccurate findings out of the bill. These facts don't seem to matter to my friends on the other side of the aisle, though.

Throughout the investigation, Democrats urged the chairman to take a different path. We asked for responsible oversight that could actually shed light on why this company failed and what legislation might be needed to advance our energy security and our domestic clean energy sector.

Despite our requests, Republicans refused to hold hearings on the competitive challenges U.S. manufacturers face in the global clean energy market. They refused to seek testimony from the largest private equity investors in Solyndra to understand why the company attracted so much private capital, and they refused to invite DOE witnesses to take a serious look at the legal and financial rationale behind the subordination of the government position in the Solyndra loan.

This was not a fair, complete, or effective investigation. It sure was long, though. But the result, the legislation before us, is also not fair, complete, or effective.

The bill does nothing to advance our Nation's energy security or to save taxpayer money. It ignores the benefits of the DOE loan programs: 300 million gallons of gasoline saved, the world's largest solar plants, the Nation's first electric vehicle manufacturing facilities, and tens of billions of dollars in private investment dollars off the sidelines and into the American economy.

The legislation does allow DOE to award $34 billion in future loan guarantees, but it prohibits the DOE from considering any new applications. Refusing to allow DOE to even consider cutting-edge applications is not the way to advance innovative energy technologies in this country. And the legislation also ties DOE's hands in the event a loan recipient needs additional capital, removing an important and legal refinancing tool that the DOE and independent observers agree can help save and protect taxpayer funds.

It's clear this legislation is a political exercise. It does nothing but attempt to keep the word ``Solyndra'' in the news and to give a platform to repeat these accusations. And it's a shame, because what we should be doing today is working together, in a bipartisan way, to find a complete energy policy that will help us, for national defense and for economic reasons, become independent from foreign oil and create new, clean energy that's domestically based.

It's disappointing legislation, and for that reason, Mr. Chairman, I urge Members to vote ``no''.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top