By Elise Viebeck - 11/07/13 07:52 PM EST
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is threatening to subpoena a top ObamaCare official who declined to attend a hearing on the law's rollout next week.
Issa wrote Thursday that he might legally compel Todd Park, the chief technology officer at the White House, to testify if Park does not agree to appear on his own.
"If you continue to refuse to testify at the committee's Nov. 13, 2013 hearing, the committee will be forced to consider the use of compulsory process to require your attendance."
Park was a core player in the construction of the botched federal enrollment site before joining the White House staff last year. He is now embroiled in the repair effort as officials rush to shore up the system by Nov. 30.
Issa's letter continues a back-and-forth that began Wednesday when the White House refused to make Park available to testify at next week's hearing.
An official in the Office of Science and Technology Policy told Issa that Park was too busy repairing HealthCare.gov to appear before December.
"Pulling him away from that work even for a short time at this stage would be highly disruptive," wrote Donna Pignatelli, assistant director for legislative affairs.
The letter proposed scheduling another hearing for the first two weeks of December and making Park available for an informal staff briefing sometime this month.
The alternatives "would permit Mr. Park's intensive work on improving HealthCare.gov during this critical period to continue unabated," Pignatelli wrote.
Issa refused to consider either option. In his letter Thursday, he called Park's attendance next week "imperative" and asked for a final answer before 5 p.m. on Friday.
The California Republican has shown he's willing to use subpoenas to investigate ObamaCare, issuing one for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and one to contractor QSSI over documents related to the rollout.
Administration officials and congressional Democrats express frustration with the aggressive tactics.
"Chairman Issa’s letter completely ignores [the White House's] offers and instead threatens a subpoena that would pull Mr. Park away from his critical role in improving the website," said Oversight ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in a statement.
"I am personally very concerned that the chairman’s actions may have a direct and negative impact on efforts to fix HealthCare.gov, which would aggravate the problem rather than help solve it."
A subpoena could come as early as Friday night if Issa chooses to issue one.
Wednesday's hearing will be Congress's sixth on the topic of the broken ObamaCare website since it debuted on Oct. 1, but the first held by the Oversight Committee.
The event next Wednesday will give lawmakers an opportunity to grill government officials directly involved in the system's construction.
Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is slated to testify alongside other IT leaders.
While he hasn't held a hearing until now, Issa has played a large role in ongoing debate about HealthCare.gov with his almost daily releases of internal CMS documents.
The records, mainly meeting notes, underscore the chaos surrounding the site's launch and the administration's effort to correct the problems.
Also testifying next Wednesday will be Frank Baitman, deputy assistant secretary for IT at the Health and Human Services Department; Steve VanRoekel, chief information officer with the Office of Management and Budget; and David Powner, director of information technology management issues at the Government Accountability Office.
— This story was updated at 7:58 p.m.