Oversight committee expands probe of Toyota

A House committee will expand its inquiry into the safety of Toyota automobiles, its top Republican member announced Thursday.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform committee, asked the Japanese automaker for details on problems facing its environmentally-friendly Prius line, which has reportedly suffered from a "stick pedal."

Issa wrote Toyota's North American COO and the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ask for details into the Prius line's problems. Those problems were revealed after Toyota announced a massive recall of its vehicles for problems related to accelerators being stuck.

"As you are aware, the American public has grown increasingly anxious about their safety as they accomplish the daily tasks of commuting to and from work, dropping their children off at school, or even just picking up groceries," Issa wrote in his letter to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "Accordingly, it is imperative that the most accurate and detailed information be available to the public regarding the risks associated with driving a Toyota product."

Toyota, according to Issa's committee staff, is replying with the congressman's document request.

Toyota faces inquiries from a number of congressional committees, and the more drawn out process has the potential to harm business for the foreign automaker. Some lawmakers, for their part, have denied that Congress will drag out the investigations in order to benefit domestic auto manufacturers.