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White House technology chief to testify at hearing

By Jim Acosta and Brianna Keilar, CNN
updated 9:32 PM EST, Tue November 12, 2013
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., will lead a hearing Wednesday about the flawed Obamacare site.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., will lead a hearing Wednesday about the flawed Obamacare site.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Todd Park was subpoenaed to testify by House Oversight Committee chairman
  • White House resisted that effort, saying his priority was to help fix Obamacare website problems
  • House panel chaired by Darrell Issa has been investigating HealthCare.gov problems
  • Oversight hearing is set for Wednesday

(CNN) -- The top White House technology officer will appear before the Republican-led House Oversight Committee on Wednesday, despite the Obama administration's insistence that he was too busy helping to repair the flawed Obamacare website.

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Todd Park was subpoenaed last week by the panel's chairman, Rep. Darrell Issa, after the White House balked at a request for his voluntary cooperation due to his work on the ailing HealthCare.gov site.

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That is the federal portal for shopping and purchasing coverage under the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement that Republicans have sought to derail since it became law with only Democratic support in 2010.

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The White House suggested Park appear in the first weeks of December, rather than this week. But Issa sought to compel his testimony as part of his investigation as to why the website wasn't ready by its October 1 launch to adequately handle inquiries and enrollment.

The site's problems have been a major early policy and political setback for the President on this issue, but the administration says it is working aggressively to fix it and should have it working smoothly for most people by month's end.

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It was unclear whether the administration would comply with Issa's subpoena until an official in the Office of Science and Technology Policy said late on Tuesday that Park would appear.

"Administration officials have testified at numerous committee interviews and briefings, and have testified at more than two dozen congressional hearings over the last few months, including four in the last two weeks," Rick Weiss, an analyst and spokesman for the science office, said in a statement.

Weiss called the subpoena "an unfortunate and unnecessary step" given their willingness for Park to appear eventually before the panel.

"It wasn't a question of if, it was a question of when," Weiss said. "We had hoped the committee would work with us to find an alternative date to give Todd time to focus on the immediate task at hand: getting the website fixed, a goal ostensibly shared by the very House Republicans insisting on his appearance on Wednesday."

Two Democrats on the Oversight Committee asked Issa to withdraw the subpoena.

In a letter released on Monday, Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Gerald Connolly of Virginia called Issa's action "unnecessary and misguided."

Democrats have argued that hearings and Issa's multiple subpoenas of administration officials are politically motivated.

Issa has said he's interested only in the truth.

Separately, the subpoena sparked a group of technology professionals with ties to the White House to launch an online petition demanding Park be left to work on the website.

"LetToddWork" had almost 1,300 signatures late Tuesday.

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CNN's Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

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