LOS ANGELES - The U.S. government's majority stake in General Motors Co. has no bearing on the response of regulators to safety problems at Toyota Motor Corp., Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

Questions about whether the government stands to benefit as a GM shareholder from its regulatory crackdown on Toyota gained some steam this week with a number of critics suggesting at least the appearance of a conflict of interest, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Treasury assumed a majority stake in GM and a nearly 10 percent interest in Chrysler in return for bailout and bankruptcy financing assistance last year.

LaHood said the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has recalled 23 million vehicles in the last three years, and "I venture to say many of those were American-made cars."

"If a car needs to be recalled, if a car manufacturer needs to be investigated, we will be there to do it," LaHood said.

LaHood is on the witness list for a hearing next Wednesday on Toyota's recall before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Also expected to attend is Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who LaHood plans to meet.