May 21, 2014 at 8:07 pm

GM CEO Barra returns to Capitol Hill

Barra (Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

Washington — General Motors CEO Mary Barra was again on Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers Wednesday, ahead of a planned return to testify before congressional panels on GM’s ignition switch recall — likely in early June.

Three people briefed on the matter said Barra told members of Congress that the company may release the results of its internal investigation at the same time it announces whether it will compensate some victims under a review led by victim compensation expert Ken Feinberg.

But the two issues are on parallel tracks and may be announced separately. Barra reiterated in the meetings that the company hopes to release in a few weeks its findings into why the company took more than a decade to recall the cars linked to 13 deaths.

GM’s CEO gave members of Congress an update on GM’s progress since the hearings in early April, including new efforts to streamline responses to safety issues.

Her meetings included sessions with Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who chaired one of the panels that questioned her in April; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo.; and Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn.

A spokesman for McCaskill confirmed that Barra and McCaskill met Wednesday so Barra could give an update on GM’s progress in completing its internal investigation. “Based on what she heard, the senator still intends to hold a follow-up hearing after that investigation is complete,” the spokesman said in an email.

On a trip two weeks ago, Barra met with Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and others.

GM spokesman Greg Martin said, “Since becoming CEO, Mary has made visits to congressional members to discuss issues that are important to them.”

GM confirmed Wednesday that North American general counsel Lucy Clark Dougherty is now advising GM’s top safety official, Jeff Boyer, on legal issues.

GM said the company’s general counsel, Michael Millikin, has no plans to retire. “He has been asked to remain on in his position at an important time for the company,” Martin said.

The company may also make other changes to its legal staff by moving people to different positions. GM’s legal department came under criticism from Congress in April for not alerting executives to the testimony of an engineer that was contradicted by company records.

“We want to be a safety leader in the industry and we are already making changes to improve information flow across the company,” Martin said.

Separately, GM and Delphi Automotive Systems LLC earlier this week asked the Supreme Court of Texas to transfer lawsuits filed in Texas against them regarding defective ignition switches to a state multi-district litigation panel.

The companies are asking for trial proceedings to stop until the panel decides whether to consolidate the cases.