'No More Solyndras Act' Takes a Beating from All Sides

The House takes up a vote on ending loan guarantees, but it may be just political posturing.

By + More
Through the Recovery Act, the Department of Energy offered a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, Inc., to support the construction of a commercial-scale manufacturing plant.

Solyndra has long been a favorite buzzword of Republicans looking to criticize the Obama administration for everything from irresponsible use of taxpayer money to an energy policy that plays favorites.

On Friday, Republicans got another chance to rehash the demise of the California solar-panel manufacturer, with a vote on the No More Solyndras Act of 2012, designed to limit new federal loan guarantees like the $535 million one Solyndra received in 2009. Applications already under consideration would require Treasury approval to go forward.

"Solyndra is the most visible but far from the only example," said Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton. "Developing new energy sources and technologies is an important part of our all-of-the-above approach, but it is clear that this loan guarantee program is ineffective at best, and counterproductive at worst."

[Read: Net-Zero Energy Home Could Make Utility Bills a Thing of the Past.]

Democrats fired back, accusing Republicans of wasting precious legislation time—Congress has just a few days left in session before departing for another recess—on political posturing and bills that have virtually no chance of passing in the Senate.

"You know full well this bill will never become law," said Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush. "This is another prime example why this has been the least effective Congress in 60 years."

Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette agreed, calling the bill "disappointing legislation" and a thinly-veiled "attempt to keep Solyndra in the news."

Beyond accusations of ulterior political motives when it comes to the bill, critics—conservative and otherwise—also take issue with the actual contents of the legislation. According to some, while the spirit of the bill—protecting taxpayers from unnecessary risk—is there, on the whole it misses the mark.

[Read: Keystone XL Re-Route Does Little to Change Direction of Debate.]

Dozens of major projects already in the loan-guarantee pipeline would move forward, critics say, the combination of which could end up costing taxpayers even more than the high-publicized failure of Solyndra.

"Despite some merits, 'The No More Solyndras Act' has a glaring loophole that should have it re-dubbed the 'Even More Solyndras Act,'" Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense said in a release. "The bill protects roughly 50 projects in the pipeline, including one that could cost taxpayers 15 times more than we lost on Solyndra."

As many point out, even if the bill does pass, it's likely dead on arrival when it gets to the Senate.

Update, 12:23 p.m.: The House voted to pass the No More Solyndras Act to limit loan guarantees 245 to 161. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Meg Handley is a reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can reach her at mhandley@usnews.com and follow her on Twitter at @mmhandley.