FIRST ON FOX: House Republicans are planning to “empty chair” a Biden official at a hearing Tuesday morning after he declined to appear, and after the administration pulled a grant for a firm with Chinese ties.
During the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing — titled “Growing the Domestic Energy Sector Supply Chain and Manufacturing Base: Are Federal Efforts Working?” — a seat will be left empty for David Howell, the top official in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains. Howell rejected an invitation to testify during the hearing alongside four experts.
“I’m concerned that the Department may be entertaining other problematic awards and only decided not to proceed with this after our congressional scrutiny,” House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., will say in her opening remarks shared exclusively with Fox News Digital.
“The Department’s refusal to appear today does nothing to alleviate our fears, and this refusal to answer questions from the American people’s elected representatives is completely unacceptable,” the remarks continue.
BIDEN’S AMBITIOUS EV PLANS COULD MAKE US MORE DEPENDENT ON CHINESE SUPPLY CHAINS, EXPERTS WARN
Earlier this month, McMorris Rodgers invited Howell, who is the acting director and principal deputy director of the DOE Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains, to inform the panel on the Biden administration’s work decoupling U.S. energy supply chains from China and other adversaries. Howell’s office oversees implementation of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act loan programs.
According to a committee memo issued ahead of the hearing, the DOE said Howell couldn’t participate because he had an inadequate amount of time to prepare testimony. The memo added that the agency would make him available at a later date in June.
In a statement Monday evening, a DOE spokesperson confirmed that the agency would cancel grant negotiations with Microvast, but declined to provide a reason. During a grant awarding process, the DOE is required to assess a number of factors including the fitness of an applicant to carry out the scope of its responsibilities under the award and its financial management.
“As responsible stewards of American taxpayer dollars, the Department of Energy maintains a rigorous review process prior to the release of any awarded funds, and it is not uncommon for entities selected to participate in award negotiations under a DOE competitive funding opportunity to not ultimately receive an award,” a DOE spokesperson told Fox News Digital.