(Washington, DC) –Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) released the following statement in response to General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra’s testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations:
“Especially in light of this week’s recalls of millions more vehicles, Mary Barra’s testimony today raised more questions than it answered. GM needs a safety reset. After three Congressional hearings, an extensive internal report, and a plethora of press, GM still has no clear answers as to why the concealment of the ignition defect was allowed to occur and persist for so long. Representatives today asked pointed questions about manufacturers at Delphi, GM engineers who worked with Ray DeGiorgio, and the actions of GM’s legal team. GM must commit to answering these and other questions – and soon.
“Today’s hearing highlighted again the systemic failures not only due to GM’s dangerous corporate culture, but also within our regulatory system that require reform – reforms that would be significantly advanced by legislation that I have proposed with several of my colleagues. Senator Markey and I have proposed the Early Warning Reporting System Improvement Act, which would increase the information available to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and consumer advocates about potentially defective parts, along with the Automaker Accountability Act, which would lift the stringent cap on the amount of a fine that NHTSA can level against wrongdoers. Additionally, Senator Graham and I have introduced the Sunshine in Litigation Act, which would require judges to consider the importance of keeping public information relevant to health and safety before allowing companies like GM to seal settlement agreements and conceal evidence of dangerous defects.
“Despite ambiguous promises by GM to change its corporate culture, the only true way to ensure consumers are protected going forward is to enact legislative reforms that will catch future defects before they harm drivers, and to hold accountable companies that promote secrecy and profit over transparency and public health. I call on GM to support these legislative efforts immediately.
“Additionally, I reiterate what I have stressed continually over the past several months. GM must commit that its victims’ compensation fund will not be capped and that it will not raise the bankruptcy shield, statute of limitations, or other legal mechanisms as a bar to deserving victims. And GM must warn drivers still using defective cars more strongly of their danger – and recommit to providing sufficient new parts and loaner vehicles to dealers.”