File - The committeewants to know whether flaws found in cars like the Chevy Cobalt could have been prevented.
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The U.S. congressional investigation into General Motors Co. automobile defects will bring aggressive scrutiny to a company with powerful lobbying clout and strong ties on Capitol Hill.GM's recall of 1.6 million vehicles, due to an ignition-switch problem linked to 12 fatalities, has put the Detroit automaker in Congress' cross hairs, with potentially dramatic hearings kicking off in April.Just this week, the company agreed to a record $1.2 billion penalty stemming from a Justice Department criminal investigation that could provide guideposts for the GM probe.The House Energy and Commerce Committee will have broad powers to investigate the actions of GM and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including the ability to subpoena witnesses and documents. GM has long had allies in Congress, most notably Michigan Representative John Dingell, the former committee chair.If House lawmakers or Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat who also plans to hold hearings in April in her Commerce Committee panel, decide legislation is needed, GM's lobbyists are sure to respond.GM spent nearly $9 million last year on an army of lobbyists whose job is to promote the company's interests in Congress and throughout the federal government.Still, House Energy and Commerce aides insist GM will get no favorable treatment.
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