By Andrew Restuccia and Ben Geman - 01/16/12 10:00 PM EST
“Keystone continues to be a top priority for the committee and will likely remain the topic of several conversations among members given that this is such an important jobs and energy security issue,” said Charlotte Baker, a spokeswoman for House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.).
GOP leadership sees White House indecision on the project as a political weapon to wield against Obama in an election season dominated by jobs and the economy.
House Republicans have vowed to continue investigating the Obama administration’s $535 million loan guarantee to failed solar panel firm Solyndra when they return to Washington.
While the investigation has not found evidence that the administration issued the loan for political reasons (as Republicans have alleged), the GOP has shown no signs of ending their political attacks on President Obama.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans asked two law firms that advised the Energy Department on the loan guarantee in 2009 and the deal’s restructuring in early 2011 for all Solyndra communications with the administration.
Meanwhile, in a move that could provide more fodder for the probe, the White House sent committee Republicans 66 pages of additional Solyndra emails in response to a GOP subpoena.
The emails show senior White House aides discussing the need to coordinate messaging with the Energy Department and others ahead of Solyndra layoffs that occurred in early November 2010.
On top of that, the White House is slated to complete an independent review of the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program by the end of the month. The review will likely feed the GOP investigation.
Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September, about two years after receiving the government-backed loan guarantee, potentially leaving the federal government on the hook for the loan.
Separately, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said that the House will soon vote on legislation that would use revenue generated from an expansion of domestic oil drilling to fund infrastructure projects like repairing roads and bridges.
The bill, which calls for a huge expansion of offshore oil-and-gas leasing and opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to drilling, will likely face major opposition from the White House and many Democrats. And it sets up the latest congressional fight over infrastructure spending, a top priority of President Obama’s.
Romney, rivals to lock horns in South Carolina
GOP White House hopefuls will debate in South Carolina Monday night ahead of the Palmetto State’s primary on Saturday.
E2 will be be watching to see how energy and the environment might creep into the discussion.
Obama to meet with jobs council
President Obama will meet Tuesday morning at the White House with his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
The group, in a report last October, appeared to give a cautious, carefully worded endorsement to the Keystone pipeline.
The jobs council report also calls for federal administrative steps to improve the process for siting power transmission lines, which are often ensnared in local and state-level disputes.
In addition, the council backs proposals for creating a new federal financing institution to support clean-energy deployment, sometimes called a “green bank,” an idea that has been kicking around Capitol Hill for several years.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...
Here's a quick roundup of Monday's E2 stories:
— Pipeline foes press Congress with upcoming protest
— Koch-backed group spends $6 million on anti-Obama Solyndra ad
— Oil industry pressures Obama on Keystone in South Carolina
— GOP Rep. Terry: No more ‘finesse’ from Congress if Obama rejects pipeline
— Likely Upton challenger to announce plans Tuesday
— Jobs take center stage in Keystone fight