By DEBORAH SOLOMON
WASHINGTON—Republican lawmakers and Obama administration officials clashed at a hearing Wednesday over the lawmakers’ allegation that the White House pushed to accelerate a $535 million loan guarantee to a solar-panel company that filed for bankruptcy-law protection this month.
The congressmen, seizing on documents obtained by a House panel, said the White House and the Energy Department ignored red flags about the finances of Solyndra LLC, which is now the target of a federal criminal investigation connected to the guarantee.
The “rush to push out stimulus dollars may have impacted the depth and quality” of the administration’s review, said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R., Fla.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
In the wake of the collapse of Solyndra, Dow Jones Newswires Columnist Al Lewis says this illustrates the fact that China is the true low-cost business leader.
The administration fought back in a contentious four-hour hearing. It blamed Solyndra’s collapse on market changes, including competition from China, which has flooded the market with less-expensive products.
“It clearly wasn’t rushed too fast,” said Jonathan Silver, head of the Energy Department’s loan-guarantee program.
Solyndra was the first company to get a loan guarantee under a program created in 2005 that received billions of dollars in funding under the 2009 economic-stimulus law.
Republican lawmakers said the administration fast-tracked Solyndra’s loan guarantee in part so that top officials, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, could tout the project as an example of how the program could create jobs and aid the economic recovery. They also questioned the legality of a restructuring agreement in which the U.S., in the event Solyndra needed to be liquidated, agreed to be paid after private creditors that were providing a new $69 million loan.
Read more via House Probes Solyndra Loan – WSJ.com.