By Ben Geman - 02/03/12 05:44 PM EST
Stearns is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which is probing the $535 million Energy Department loan guarantee to Solyndra, the California solar panel company that went bankrupt in September.
The White House has strongly criticized Republicans for weighing contempt charges, calling it proof of a politically motivated probe. The Obama administration said it has been responsive to requests for documents.
Stearns also confirmed that he’s planning more hearings on Solyndra. The Florida Republican said he wishes to continue probing the Energy Department’s early 2011 restructuring of the Solyndra loan when the company was struggling financially.
The restructuring put Solyndra investors, who agreed to provide additional capital, ahead of taxpayers for repayment if the company collapsed — a step that Republicans called illegal.
“We still believe they broke the Energy Policy Act of 2005,” Stearns said, referring to the 2005 energy law that first authorized the loan-guarantee program.
The Energy Department has strongly defended the legality of the restructuring, and said it offered the best chance for the company to avoid bankruptcy.