White House agrees to Solyndra interviews under subpoena threat

House Republicans canceled plans to subpoena executive branch officials over the Solyndra loan guarantee after reaching an agreement with the White House Thursday.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigative panel had planned to vote Friday on a resolution authorizing subpoenas to two White House officials and three officials of the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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But the White House agreed Thursday to voluntarily make the officials available for interviews with committee investigators, making the subpoena vote unnecessary, lawmakers said.

“The committee is pleased that we will finally have a chance to talk to those administration officials who actually did the substantive work on the Solyndra loan guarantee,” the committee's GOP leadership said in a statement.

Committee investigators plan to speak with Kevin Carroll, energy branch chief at OMB; Kelly Colyar, branch chief at OMB; Fouad Saad, program examiner at OMB; and Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change.

They also hope to interview Aditya Kumar, the former deputy assistant to the vice president and senior adviser to former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Kumar is no longer with the White House but the Republicans are still hoping to speak with him.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), who heads the committee's investigations panel, said in the Capitol Thursday night that the terms and conditions of the interviews are still being negotiated.

The GOP lawmakers sent a letter to the White House’s top lawyers last week warning of the possibility of issuing the subpoenas if the officials are not made available to the committee for interviews. The letter gave the White House until Feb. 17 to agree to the meetings.

Republicans have already issued two subpoenas during the year-long Solyndra investigation. The subcommittee voted last July to subpoena OMB for documents related to the 2009 Solyndra loan guarantee. GOP lawmakers then voted in November to subpoena the White House for all its Solyndra communications.

Republicans have alleged that the White House has not been responsive enough to the November subpoena. They threatened last week to pursue contempt charges against the White House if officials do not provide additional Solyndra documents by Feb. 21.

The White House insists that it has been responsive, turning over 313 pages of internal emails earlier this month. The White House had previously sent 200 pages of documents in response to the subpoena, as well as more than 1,000 pages sent before the subpoena was issued.

Federal agencies, including the Energy Department and OMB, have separately sent the committee more than 180,000 pages of documents.