Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerThis week: Barr back in hot seat over Mueller report Trump suggests Heller lost reelection bid because he was 'hostile' during 2016 presidential campaign Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary MORE (R-Nev.) sought answers from Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewHogan urges Mnuchin to reconsider delay of Harriet Tubman bill Mnuchin says new Harriet Tubman bill delayed until 2028 Overnight Finance: US reaches deal with ZTE | Lawmakers look to block it | Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 | Mexico files WTO complaint MORE as to why he relaxed pay limits for General Motors’ executives.

“I am extremely concerned to learn that while GM officials were being allowed to receive excessive pay raises, they were producing defective vehicles,” Heller wrote in a letter to Lew over the weekend. “This is yet again another sad example of how out of touch officials in Washington, D.C. are with the American public.”

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Heller said he was troubled by the decision because it came at the same time the federal government is investigating GM’s past mistakes, including faulty ignition switches that have resulted in deaths.

“At a time when GM’s negligence resulted in millions of defective cars being left on road, this past decision by your agency enhances the notion that the federal government was more interested in rewarding a select number of company officials instead of maintaining proper oversight over GM,” Heller wrote.

The Obama administration bailed out the automaker in order to prevent massive job losses in a poor economy. Some lawmakers believe GM misrepresented itself in that deal and failed to mention the need to recall some of the faulty cars. 

“Given the fact taxpayer bailed out GM is currently being examined by government agencies for its past mistakes further demonstrates to me that, of the companies operating today, GM is by far the one company whose executives should have had their pay cut, and not inflated by the federal government,” Heller wrote.

Heller demanded details from Lew about the pay raises by Oct. 9.

Treasury spokesman Adam Hodge said the department would respond to Heller soon as possible but that its officials were not involved in the day-to-day management of GM and were not responsible for pay increases.  

"Treasury made significant changes to compensation levels at the companies under our jurisdiction after they entered TARP and have followed those guidelines since," Hodge said. "Specifically, the GM CEO did not receive an increase in cash compensation or total direct compensation while under Treasury’s jurisdiction, and cash compensation and total direct compensation for the top-25 executives at the company decreased in 2013."

— This article was updated at 10:30 p.m.