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“This isn’t picking winners and losers. It is helping ensure that we have winners here at all,” Silver said.

But GOP officials disputed that the Bush administration was willing to go along with a loan guarantee for Solyndra, noting that a Department of Energy committee voted against offering a conditional commitment to Solyndra in January 2009. The committee said the deal was premature and questioned its underlying financial support, said Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, chaiman of the investigative panel for the Energy and Commerce Committee

Two executives with Solyndra Inc. were also asked to testify Wednesday but are now expected to appear voluntarily next week instead. They are Brian Harrison, the company’s president and chief executive officer, and W.G. Stover Jr., a senior vice president and chief financial officer.

Democratic lawmakers attempted to focus the concerns on Solyndra itself and argued that the company’s problems shouldn’t be used to derail a worthy program.

Solyndra was heralded as one of the nation’s bright spots of green technology innovation, creating a solar tube of sorts that could soak up sunlight from many angles, producing energy more efficiently and using less space. The company’s panels were also light and easy to install, which was meant to save upfront costs.

But over the past few years, other companies caught up and provided similar products at a lower cost.