Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., questions General Motors CEO Mary Barra on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.

Rep. Lee Terry Makes Awkward Joke at GM Hearing

Not the time, nor the place, congressman.

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., questions General Motors CEO Mary Barra on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee.

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., made an awkward joke during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing regarding GM vehicle recalls.

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As Congress took time Tuesday to get to the bottom of why General Motors took so long to recall vehicles with faulty ignition switches, Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., gave an awkward excuse for why he was late to the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. 

“I’m sorry for being late, but my plane was canceled for mechanical reasons,” he said. “Probably an ignition switch." 

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The faulty ignition switches are believed to be behind the deaths of 13 people. At the hearing, General Motors CEO Mary Barra apologized to the family members of those killed in car crashes linked to the mechanical issue, which GM had failed to disclose since 2001. Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million vehicles due to the problem.  

Later, Terry issued this statement: “No excuses, I said something I shouldn’t have and I apologize. I had no intention of being insensitive but made an off-handed comment that detracted away from the very important substance of today’s hearing on the GM recall. I think everyone can understand what it’s like to say something and not be able to take it back. It just goes to show that no matter what point you’re at in life, we are all human and are all capable of making mistakes.”  

The congressman’s mouth has been filled with his foot before.

Last October during the government shutdown, Terry gave a “dang straight” when asked if he would continue collecting a paycheck, according to Omaha.com. “I’ve got a nice house and a kid in college, and I’ll tell you we cannot handle it,” he said. “Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it? That’s just not going to fly.”

He later apologized. 



Updated on April 2, 2014: This story has been updated to include a statement from Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb.