A top Republican on a House panel investigating Toyota's massive recalls called Wednesday for the company's president to testify before Congress later this month, seeking an "open exchange" before the American public.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Toyota president Akio Toyoda should meet with lawmakers and testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Feb. 24. The automaker's top executive and grandson of the company's founder has said he plans to travel to the United States soon to meet with American workers and dealers.
"There certainly is widespread interest from Capitol Hill and the American people to hear directly from him," Issa said. He said he would ask Chairman Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., who leads the committee, to invite Toyoda to participate in the hearing.
The hearing was scheduled for Wednesday but postponed because of a snowstorm that blanketed the capital. Issa says the delayed hearing would give the committee an opportunity to "provide a forum for both Mr. Toyoda and lawmakers to have an open exchange in front of the American people."
Toyota has recalled nearly 8.5 million vehicles since November around the globe for problems that include floor mats that can entangle the gas pedal and gas pedals that can stick, causing sudden acceleration. The recalls have drawn interest in Congress, where lawmakers are looking into how the company handled the recalls and whether the government properly investigated numerous complaints.
Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss said the automaker appreciated Issa's interest in meeting with their president and when Toyoda visits the United States "he would look forward to the opportunity to meet with members of Congress."
Toyoda is not yet scheduled to testify before Congress. The House Oversight Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has scheduled a Feb. 25 hearing, are expected to hear from Toyota Motor North America Chairman and chief executive Yoshi Inaba, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Administrator David Strickland.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has scheduled a March 2 hearing but has not yet released its witness list.
Toyoda wrote an opinion column in Tuesday's Washington Post in which he promised an outside review of company operations, better responses to customer complaints and improved communication with federal officials.
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