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GM CEO grilled on Capitol Hill

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Washington, DC -

 

Tuesday on Capitol Hill lawmakers and victims' families demanded answers from General Motors.  Congress wants to know why neither GM nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acted sooner to recall millions of cars with defective ignition switches.  Records show GM was aware of the problem as early as 2001.

 

At the center of today's hearing - CEO Mary Barra, who took over GM in January. Since then, the automaker has recalled 2.6 million vehicles because their ignition switches could turn off unexpectedly -- shutting down the car power and safety systems, including the air bag.  The defect is linked to 13 deaths and more than two dozen crashes. Families of accident victims said GM needs to come clean about why it took more than a decade to address the defective ignition switches. In today's hearing, house leaders probed the CEO about the faulty switch and the communication within the company.

"Sitting here today I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced in that program, but I can tell you that we will find out," says Barra.  "This is an extraordinary situation. It involves vehicles we no longer make, but it came to light on my watch so I'm responsible for resolving it. When we have answers, we will be fully transparent with you, with our regulators, and with our customers."

Before the congressional hearing, lawmakers, consumer advocates and family members of victims accused GM of putting profits before lives.  Documents submitted to congress by general motors show that the piece that would've been needed to fix a defective ignition switch linked to those 13 traffic deaths would've cost just 57 cents. One of the victim's parents called for the justice department to conduct a criminal investigation of GM.


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