House Republicans are preparing to leave an empty chair for David Howell, a top official in the Department of Energy’s Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains, during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday. Howell declined an invitation to testify alongside four experts during the hearing titled “Growing the Domestic Energy Sector Supply Chain and Manufacturing Base: Are Federal Efforts Working?”
In her opening remarks shared exclusively with Fox News Digital, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., expressed concerns about the Department of Energy (DOE) and its decision to cancel a $200 million grant for Microvast, a Texas-based firm with ties to China. The grant was part of the infrastructure bill to boost U.S. battery manufacturing. McMorris Rodgers criticized the DOE’s refusal to appear at the hearing, stating that it does not alleviate their concerns and is unacceptable.
The push to rescind the grant came after it was revealed that Microvast generates significant revenue in China and has close ties to the Chinese government. Financial disclosures indicate that the Chinese government substantially influences the company’s activities. Republican leaders, including McMorris Rodgers, have called for the grant’s cancellation due to these concerns.
Earlier this month, McMorris Rodgers invited Howell to provide information on the Biden administration’s efforts to decouple U.S. energy supply chains from China and other adversaries. Howell’s office oversees the implementation of loan programs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.
In response to the invitation, the DOE refused to have Howell or any other witness appear at the hearing, citing previous witness appearances before the committee. McMorris Rodgers criticized the DOE for its lack of transparency and expressed the need to ensure taxpayer dollars are not being funneled to China.
On Monday evening, a DOE spokesperson confirmed that the agency would cancel grant negotiations with Microvast but declined to provide a reason. The DOE followed a rigorous review process before awarding funds and stated that it is not uncommon for entities selected for negotiations to ultimately not receive an award.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing is scheduled for Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m.