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U.S. Senate seeks hearings on GM recalls: aide

The General Motors world headquarters is seen in downtown Detroit, Michigan May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook
The General Motors world headquarters is seen in downtown Detroit, Michigan May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A probe by the U.S. Congress into General Motors' recall of malfunctioning cars blamed for 13 deaths expanded on Tuesday when Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockfeller sought hearings related to the company's ignition switch problems.

A Senate aide told Reuters that Rockefeller had asked Senator Claire McCaskill, who chairs a Senate Commerce panel on product safety, to convene a hearing on GM.

The widening inquiry comes after House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton late on Monday said his panel would probe GM and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration's actions.

GM is recalling cars to correct an ignition problem that could lead to cars' engines and other components, including front airbags, to turn off while operating at high speed. More than 1.6 million older vehicles are affected.

Asked about the upcoming Senate probe, GM spokesman Greg Martin noted that the company on Monday said that it will cooperate with Congress as it looks into how GM and the federal government responded to the safety problem.

No hearing dates have yet been announced by the panels in either chamber.

(Reporting By Richard Cowan in Washington and Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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