Congressional Hearings to Convene on Faulty Tires

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Congress opens hearings this week aimed at determining when Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. and its customer Ford Motor Co. knew about tire problems that have been linked to 88 deaths in U.S. accidents and more overseas.

The case was not attracting much attention when lawmakers went on summer break a month ago, but the resulting media coverage, recall of 6.5 million tires and government scrutiny in the United States and abroad have made the issue one of the hottest on Capitol Hill with at least three hearings planned.

"This thing is just getting uglier by the minute," said Ken Johnson, spokesman for Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., who will preside over one of the hearings. "It's turning into sort of a tire-gate."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has received more than 1,400 complaints of tread loss, blowouts and other defects on Firestone tires, often standard equipment on light trucks and SUVs made by Ford Motor Co.

Lawmakers say they will explore when Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. …