Will Congress Really Eliminate Solyndra Loan Program?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012 and is filed under Blog, Issues

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Later this week, the House will vote on the No More Solyndras Act (H.R. 6213).  This bill would bar DOE from granting loan guarantees to any company that filed its application after December 31, 2011.

The problem is that this bill does not completely abolish the loan program, nor does it put an end to some of the unstable loans that the Obama administration has already issued.  Here are some concerns expressed in a letter to Congress from Taxpayers for Common Sense:

As currently drafted, this legislation would allow troubled projects, like a $2 billion loan guarantee to the financially floundering United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), to be finalized. Although the bill prevents new loan guarantees from the Department of Energy, it excludes projects that applied before December 2011, including USEC. These grandfathered loan guarantees went through the same failed review process and are just as likely, if not more so, to end in default, just like Solyndra.

For example, USEC’s stock prices have been trading at less than $1 per share for months and the company has already received a junk-bond credit rating from Moody’s Credit Rating Service. USEC’s financials are so bleak the company was recently given notice that it may lose its place on the New York Stock Exchange. USEC has continually asked for and received lifelines from the Department of Energy (DOE), including a recent $88 million influx of cash, but its long-term financial problems remain unresolved. Despite all of this, under the No More Solyndras Act, DOE still has the authority to award them a $2 billion loan guarantee for their Piketon, OH uranium enrichment facility. Adding insult to injury, the Piketon project has already encountered numerous cost overruns and technical hurdles itself.

Republicans are right to strike out against the Solyndra program, especially during the heat of the campaign.  This is an albatross around Obama’s neck.  However, why not carry through with it completely and abolish the program altogether?

Just three months ago, Congress took up the McClintock-Kucinich Amendment to the FY 2013 Energy-Water Appropriations bill, which would have completely defunded the loan guarantee program.  Amazingly, more Republicans voted against it than for it!

Why are they scared to fully defund the Solyndra program?  Is this not a winning issue?