Senate Finance enters Volkswagen fray

The Senate Finance Committee opened a new front in investigations into Volkswagen on Tuesday, questioning whether the automaker's rigging of emission control systems cost the Treasury millions in wrongly issued subsidies.

Finance Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOrrin Hatch Foundation seeking million in taxpayer money to fund new center in his honor Mitch McConnell has shown the nation his version of power grab Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Utah Senate votes to scale back Medicaid expansion | Virginia abortion bill reignites debate | Grassley invites drug execs to testify | Conservative groups push back on e-cig crackdown MORE (R-Utah) and the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Dem lawmaker: 'Trump's presidency is the real national emergency' Dems introduce bill to take gender-specific terms out of tax code to make it LGBT-inclusive MORE (Ore.), noted that Volkswagen told the IRS that diesel cars thought to have had their emissions systems manipulated were eligible for a tax credit for fuel efficient vehicles.

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The two senators suggested that owners of certain 2009 and 2010 Volkswagen models received well over $50 million in subsidies from a $1,300 per vehicle credit established roughly a decade ago. 

Almost a half million vehicles in all were rigged to wrongly pass emissions tests through "defeat devices" that Volkswagen has admitted to installing.

"This activity raises questions of whether Volkswagen made false representations to the U.S. government in its certification for federal tax subsidies," Hatch and Wyden wrote.

Hatch and Wyden pressed Volkswagen for a wide range of information by the end of the month, including any discussions between the automaker and the Treasury Department over the vehicles and documents asserting to certify the vehicles' eligibility for the tax credit.