Families of GM Victims Push for New Safety Law

U.S. senators express support for a bill proposed to expand public access to auto makers safety filings.
3:00 | 04/01/14

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Transcript for Families of GM Victims Push for New Safety Law
This is a special group. -- -- -- -- New York with a CBC news digital special report taking -- to Washington DC where victims' families and those accidents caused by General Motors products. Are holding a news conference on Capitol Hill -- testimony by the -- GM CEO -- let's listen in. With such heavy hearts this. Is a 2000. And -- it Chevy cobalt ignition switch. This is the same design. That failed. Shutting off -- vehicle air bags and killing innocent victims and we now know. That big difference between this its rich. And -- that would have worked properly was life or death. -- Do it all the other conference. Two dollars. That's right two adults. That's how little this ignition switch could have cost to repair. Just two dollars. Two dollars that could have saved the priceless lives. -- of eighteen year old. -- -- -- -- sixteen year old. Amber Marie -- nineteen year old Sierra Trout -- And the lives of so many others. But that was apparently two dollars too much for General Motors. To -- -- too much to fox. When a Saturn an -- on stalled in 2003. And a technician found the ignition switch had been worn out by a heavy -- morning. To goes too -- to act when GM received more and more reports of its cars engines. -- all -- themselves. In 2004. 2005. And 2006. Too much even after GM found evidence of -- mind. Chevrolet Cobalt crashes involving -- -- bags did did not deployed in 2007. -- you know this failure to act in the face of additional deaths injuries and complaints went -- and -- on. Until just two months ago when it finally decided to recall these vehicles. This recall is a decade -- and dozens of lives and injuries -- What is almost as and raging. As GM's failure to act is the Transportation. Department -- in Mosul. To stop allowing companies to hide -- -- defects from millions of car owners. In 2000. I worked with congressman Henry Waxman. -- other colleagues including Diana to get to create the early morning reporting system. As part of the auto safety law passed. To deal with the Ford Firestone roll over the fact that killed more than 250. People. But when it came time for the Bush Administration to implement the they acquiesced. To GM and other car companies desires to keep vital safety information secret. And those. And when congress weren't able to Toyota sudden unintended acceleration safety defects I wrote in -- commitment. To require automakers to automatically submit documents like accident reports into the early warning reporting system that -- consumers' safety experts all the Department of Transportation. Could get. Real early mornings people -- a decade of deaths and deception pass. But auto makers oppose my efforts to make more information public the bill passed -- -- those requirements. And it's -- -- twelve. The auto makers also -- another requirement. To make more information. Public that -- in the Senate's transportation bill. Today I say enough is enough today I call upon the auto makers ended Transportation Department. To support the bill that I introduced along with senator Richard Blumenthal last week. To ensure tragically -- like this never happen again. Bill would do for main things to protect out roads and our families want. It would require automakers to submit the documents. That first alerts them to fatal accidents involving their vehicles to the searchable early warning reporting system to -- It would require the Transportation Department to publish materials it receives about safety accidents that it currently keeps secrets. Three every it would require the Transportation Department to upgrade. It's databases to give consumers the tools they need to protect themselves. And for it would require the -- Education Department to use the information. It has to better identify fatal defects before -- claim more innocent lives. This is the least we can do for the lives that have been lost and the families that are still struggling but justice. Just this. Law -- area. John sued Johnson sells. Fought. Olive oil could peanuts or Ryan Quigley for Richard Scott -- but Amy Rodham maker. What Carroll Kelly errant -- for Michael -- junior -- Joshua would. We can't we can make sure this doesn't happen again all of them. We must make sure this doesn't happen again. We cannot allow the next chapter in this automobile -- tragedy to have the same and. Thank you Amex that -- -- and -- has had a Blumenthal of Connecticut. Thank you thank you -- thank you for your leadership over many many years -- I don't mean government after years service there and maybe most important and into the family's doing here -- loved ones. Whose courage and strength in being -- today really. Is an inspiration. Never easy to come forward and -- speak truth to power as they are doing today to tell. The stories of their loved ones. Who deserved better. -- deserved better from GM products Richard Scott Bailey. A man who served his country. And who deserve better. And from GM whose product you. This marine. Is the reason that we're -- -- as are the other families. Because we know from GM's experience. That concealment. And -- GM made a business decision. To -- and -- that not only to avoid preparing it but to conceal. And it concealed it not only from its customers. And from many of its employees it concealed it from the United States government. And -- by. Gain the justice system to obtain. A complete field. Fraud and blanket. Immunity from liability. For. The -- defects that it concealed. And today we have to correct bad. Situation. GM can do the right thing. In three specific ways first of all. It can establish a fund. To compensate. He's loved ones of victims innocent. Victims. Of GM's concealment -- defective product. -- -- -- Well. Consistent money. It will never fully compensate the loved ones for the loss their family members. But it is a star. And second GM. Ought to issue a warning that matches the severity of danger. -- its drivers now face behind the wheel of these defective product. It has failed to warn sufficiently. That these drivers -- these particular models. Are unsafe at any speed behind that -- and and until they are prepared they should not be driven it should be repaired right away so they can be. They are a limited number of models dealers are doing the right thing in -- -- -- And proactively reaching out to their customers asking them to bring those models back. But right now GM has failed to warn sufficiently. That. A key that is too heavy. Can stop the car and the air bags from deploying. What kind of car you be on the road endangering those drivers and others and -- As senator -- is that I call on GM. To back to bill that -- offered that will establish accountability and reform this system. So that defects -- detected. More quickly and disclose more fully and fairly. In -- database that's available to everyone. And that can guide consumers in making decisions. About where and how to buy. Their products. You know we're -- about a great American company GM is a iconic great company. Whose luster. And brand should be reclaim and restore. GM has the power itself. To do the right thing despite this shield from liability. And passes again and despite. A business decision that it made to conceal these defects despite the harm that's been done now was a time. For GM. To do the right thing on its own without. Prosecution. And and without. -- compulsion to court. Do the right thing GN. Made this brand worthy. The great company. You have to end the great employees that you had a great dealers who sell your product and the customers. Who use them. Thank you. That's what I thought Henry Waxman who is the ranking member of the house commerce committee which -- had been hearing today. And has been chairman of that committee and is -- the great congressman that's ever served nine states congress. -- thank -- Joan Claybrook. We're here there -- -- tragic circumstances. Thirteen Americans. Have been killed and effective General Motors vehicles. Later today I'll have the opportunity. To talk to Mary -- The CEO GM and ask -- how and why the company took so long. To inform the public about these this defect. And you'll recall the vehicles. Vehicles -- who. -- hazardous. But -- -- want to acknowledge the families of some of those victims. For joining us today. For speaking up about their loved ones I know it's difficult exit great deal of courage to speak out about what has happened. And I know they aren't really experiencing. The continuing -- that they've been feeling. -- not only lost family members but -- -- -- and an accident. That might have been prevented. -- have taken action -- We owe it to unified out the facts. And we begin our investigation. We begin -- investigation several weeks ago -- the information we have obtained to date. Reveals a disturbing pattern. Pattern where did it again GM discovered. -- -- all of these problems. With their vehicles. And the company did nothing. This morning -- -- releasing a new analysis. I've never released. GM warranty claims. -- -- received over a 130. Warranty claims. From drivers NG and technicians. Who experienced and identified the defects. Drivers reported that there are shut off after hitting -- -- bottles at highway speeds and when they did something as simple as brushing the ignition switch with the NB. The comments -- the vehicle owners in these reports are chilling. Given what we now know. I want to give some examples. These -- all quotes. Vehicle stalls we -- -- Slash -- Poland road noticed at fifty miles per hour. Quote. -- -- the ignition switch aerial vehicle was shut off. Quote vehicle died at highway speeds. Quote ignition key terms are for going over bumps. Quote key -- heavy and shedding ignition. Vehicle -- short -- intermittently caused by -- ignition with me while driving. Quote vehicle quit running while driving about seventy. Miles per hour after hitting bump in the highway. You. Know about these problems. -- -- these quotes in the information. From. There own customers and from their own technicians. But it took them -- -- that decade to recall the vehicles. So much -- -- out what went wrong inside the company that allowed this to happen we must also make. Action. To -- I'm -- ensure that it does not happen again. That's why aren't introducing in the house. The motor vehicle safety act of 24 team. This bill is modeled on the legislation the energy and commerce committee has -- -- quickly. But was never enacted into law. It will make more information on defects available to the public. It will increase its funding and increased civil penalties for manufacturers. When companies like GM. Fail to comply with the law. I hope the committee will take up this legislation. After today's hearing. On behalf of the families who -- today we must improve the law to prevent the next auto safety. -- tragedy thank you. -- like to introduce the congresswoman Diana DeGette she is the ranking member. The the subcommittee is holding the hearing to -- to Colorado. Thank you very much asking her. Helping lead to investigate are hearing this afternoon with congressman Tim Murphy for Pennsylvania. I wanted to come here this morning. Because I wanted to let the families and others who are here today who have experienced this trauma. Now that congress is interested. And cares very deeply and wants to make sure this never happens it. I must say. I've been in congress for awhile. Every time I semen and these tactics situations. As a -- it just makes my Hartley. And I just want to thank everybody for coming today because I know how -- very difficult and yes. And I want to ensure that that as we continue the investigation. And as we continue with legislation -- about the house and senate. Lives are lost and not be forgotten and and we will act. Now you heard from Mike Connolly but. Do you immediately about these defects in ignition systems for over ten years and yet they did not recall these cars. Did not bring coyotes even -- even though it I think cars could hurt while going at highway speeds. I've been thinking about this this weekend as them twenty and it -- foreigner. And what I've been thinking about it is driving down the highway at sixty miles an hour. Hitting a -- or turning slightly as your -- is in the back -- Friday. And suddenly your car turns off. No airbags deploy I don't think happens your car turns. And that's what happened to many of the families who -- standing here today. You know people make more than a financial commitment to these -- when they purchase them from GM. They -- them sounds and their love lives to what they believed to be safe. And reliable vehicle. GM. Match. Alan -- was home in Denver last week. And I found out this information. When I found out that there were more than 2.5. Million vehicles were part of this week I had -- message and -- -- etiquette to. If you unload one -- these recalled vehicles. It immediately. And take it to your dealer and -- -- I wouldn't let my children tightness and I wouldn't try that myself. GM -- saying if you if you just take the heat if you just think -- indictment. You'll be okay so I went in my -- I got my -- These key piece of every mother and -- today. And these are the keys -- -- pain for certain transmission -- admissions at these cars. And if you're gonna say -- -- You can't -- keys that dad. You need to fix it because it's not realistic to help you they can't use their keys to drive the cars. Now as we move forward with this investigation. Our number one priority to safety and well we will be looking at today. Yes. When -- communities this information. They didn't tell the American public. And why the federal agency in charge of -- -- -- after 2000 when we pass the turn act. Didn't make this information of where to American. -- but to Americans that's what we're going to find out. Again I want to say to the families here thank you for coming and a lot to -- to do you have. Unique to -- -- -- with congress as we investigate this important issue and let us know why this happened at what you. Due to rectify the situation thank you. We didn't have a former upstate assembly speak now. The first just -- -- that -- from Toms River New Jersey. -- typical twenty and. When that might prized possessions -- -- new car. Had a beautiful red -- is greater gas lately CDs -- -- particularly and most importantly it was mind blowing. I friend's wedding in different states luckily I had a trustworthy car to get me there are so I thought. I was driving down highway in terms of the New Jersey won't suddenly -- went -- 45 miles per hour to zero within seconds. As a car swerved to avoid crashing into me I started to -- -- -- two men jumped out of their cars to push into a gas station that was up the room. I immediately called my mother -- -- -- the car off an attack it was perfectly fine. Once later the same situation happened again except this time I was a -- -- that -- my best friend in Tennessee. As I was driving down an offer the same exact thing and -- the -- behind me. It's very alerts where -- -- -- cursing at me and taking off. With shaking hands -- hard and tear filled eyes -- bikini she once again in the -- was instantly took out. When I returned home about an article at the court -- the service sector for a second time she insisted they keep this -- to figure out the problem. After ten days of testing the car to their amazement they say they found the problem. Informing them eating my key ring was slightly and fortunately. At the bottom it immediately shut down. So -- -- -- -- and just a single ignition key and I want husky a few months later this situation happened for the third time. Somehow somehow escaped before car pile up. At that point in my life I was I was at the heart disease pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in. The doctors inform -- that any form of stress anxiety was -- for setting off this device. His mother trying to decide that this court will surely death -- in thinking what -- it again Colin who will play anymore. Driving his car likely -- rushing back with -- safety of my friends. It can even begin to explain fear and confusion that runs through the -- similar we have no control over your car. I cannot comprehend the loss -- these -- -- you're going through. My hope is that the heart stops right now. I don't want any more drivers to be mourned by family and friends because an auto maker -- that the problem. The federal government failed to take action and drivers like me were kept in the dark. I'd like to club club -- this -- letters letters to check in General Motors for years ago. He said this is safety recall issue that there was one should not have to -- -- the safety problems that may happen such as accidents or death. As I firmly believe this car needs to be really cold -- and revised and corrected. Thank you. I'm Terry -- -- -- and -- Christian talk together. Good afternoon. My name's -- even taste it helped my daughter amber pick out her 2005 should be called. -- pressure. And -- -- my daughter -- pick out her 2005 said he -- on because of its highly rated safety features. Now -- idea was aware of the fact that there are problems -- the -- -- before the Carly is even available to the public. And that the problem would result an air -- not deploying and protecting her. I feel that GM needs to be held accountable to the public for the deadly and tragic consequences allowing these deadly switches to be used. I believe that it is necessary for the Department of Justice to conduct a -- of the -- a criminal investigation. To determine if there is culpability by GM and -- inside the company should be held responsible. It is my sincere hope that there will be changes -- the law. In order to prevent other families from experiencing -- tragedy. It is clear that Jim is only concerned with their bottom line and not the safety -- -- loved -- -- Christian. At amber -- -- the first fatality at this Chevy cobalt effects. At first it was why -- And then you. As you seen. -- And there are still more. This is just tip of the iceberg. We the people left behind. When it got into what was supposed to be -- in car a GM car. A car that GM knew for years was dangerous and defective. -- daughters. Sons sisters. Brothers. Mothers. Fathers. Wives and husbands are gone because they -- -- cost of doing business GM's style. Corporate executives made a decision that fighting the problem was cheaper and easier than fixing the problem. My mission is twofold. First to make sure that every white mr. having these dangers ours is aware of the defects. A lot of these cars have been sold and -- -- -- recall matters will not be sent to them. When -- to the website and -- national entry into traffic safety administration. Estimates that. I was -- to -- ineffective small message about the recall that was replaced by the message after about seven seconds. It doesn't say anything about thirteen people aren't engine and -- -- -- Steve act. The language to convey that urgent critical and potentially equal importance at this message. Vincent must -- direct. All intents and the public that it -- People what these vehicles should get their girls cars off the road. Until -- mission has been apparent to protect themselves and everyone sharing the roads with them. The second part of my mission is to reform the way GM and other -- manufacturers do business. Car manufacturers cannot be permitted to continue is that there's an acceptable loss of life. Is -- time for congress to act and passed legislation. -- will give the public access to light and information. Give an -- enforcement tools they need and give auto maker's warning that this is not acceptable and will not be tolerated. Mensa which is responsible for protecting monitoring. The American public needs more resources to get their jobs. I urge congress to take immediate action. To provide additional funding -- -- and an agency more transparent and informative but apparently they are charged with serving. Please help us protect our children and pass legislation to make sure it doesn't happen again. Thank you. I'm so -- we're gonna have Ken whoever -- Wisconsin. Here before you today as it was my stepdaughter detached way -- eighteen. And her friend Amy -- makers fifty. Their voice they -- voiced their whole life on the evening of October 24. 2006 while riding with another friend making turns in -- -- must 2005 technical. What was to be as simple shopping excursions. -- -- a desperate as their vehicles without any warning lost power. -- -- power brakes no longer worked and they -- Peter banks returned. When all this happened are followed a path up the road. Went airborne over -- joining driveway crushed five bucks and tragically collided with a group of trees. Miraculously all three girls survived the initial accident and were rushed to the area's local -- -- meet with her sense of head injuries. Passed away within hours to township after hours of surgery and in a coma because of her head injuries kept alive -- life support. Held on for eleven days before being. For being announced bring it. Afterwards life support and was -- Megan survived into -- -- -- suffers physical ailments and mental anguish as pianist will survive. My wife -- lost everything that passion was her only child. Do we know boyfriend troubles no wedding day jitters no children for an entire ship or grandchildren from -- No family member to care for her and she was just -- forever -- aren't for the daughter he so loved. -- report shows his speed was not a factor whether it was not a factor normal conditions -- traffic. Ignition system was found in the -- repositioned by accident investigators. None of this ever have to happen it could have been easily addressed and corrected. Four years prior to reducing the -- even engineers were aware of a problem with -- machines which design. Which could cause it to turn into the accessory positions which are so -- -- a key chain or wrong. President fixing them and they chose to keep producing nickel while with the -- -- ignition switch and selling -- -- and an unsuspecting public. With fixing the problem when it was discovered. See these two girls lives and the lives of many others yes. Should GM be held. There's two GM be able to hide behind their bankruptcy and that -- -- responsibility and liability of these young lives -- Please help us in standing up for what is right. GM knew it was wrong -- hidden during the bankruptcy proceedings GM is liable for these -- And urged congress to take immediate action pass strong legislation but tough penalties sort of cover ups that. Needless deaths and injuries especially when an inexpensive and easy fix was available should not be the cost of doing business. The preventable deaths -- -- -- -- naming when that he forgot to. Tap the corporate cover -- congress should act now and passed legislation to step. Attach any me. When that because that's -- And we must protect other families from these taxes to. He's kind of statement to celebrate for -- -- victims of this terrible tragedy. I would like to very quickly first thank advocates for highway and on -- safety which has. And a stalwart is helping the victims get here in -- the press conference in -- some of the materials. And dad so I'm -- quickly read the names of everybody -- what you want your pictures. You can do it all wrong. So count -- in White Plains Maryland Donald Ronald rows of White Plains Maryland Jim Rose of Indian head Maryland. Smith attempted -- you've heard from Toms River New Jersey Nets again innocent Monroe Township New Jersey. Shannon Bruton and Adams Tennessee Jerry sharp Turkey -- -- York. Terry -- Batista. Conway South Carolina -- -- of Annapolis Maryland. Darrell chip business national Nashville and Davidson -- Nashville police are -- of Scranton. Pennsylvania Mary ready -- -- Pennsylvania Monica Coronado home to Indiana and it was his me. Rosie -- Martinez bill Idaho. Virginia Garcia. Adrian are again -- combined -- behind. -- Carolina. The trial mine Framingham Massachusetts -- outlined a Framingham Massachusetts. Jim Langley a Phoenix Arizona. -- -- of Phoenix Arizona. And whoever has happened with Wisconsin. James -- apparent Wisconsin Don Michael of public Lehman's Minnesota. And the usually Randolph -- maker -- -- Wisconsin. And finally I liked it it is my state who is actually yeah and -- department transportation's worst nightmare. The head of the senate honestly think he's done. Remarkable work on this issue. Thank you I am -- -- acting director of the center for auto safety. General Motors -- the problem for years. This -- miss the army missed the obvious warning signs. And people wouldn't needlessly dying in crashes because of defective decision making at camp mother's care. This is a complete failure -- the recall system and we must change the law to reform that system. Any good engineer. Testing. These switches -- realized it's too easy. To change the switch from -- From the -- in position to the accessory position. In fact GM engineers didn't recognize this they recommended a different switch. -- people in production but GM management rejected that. When the switches were put into production and people started dying in crashes. GM engineers. Recommend it affects that GM management. -- -- The result. Few losses started happening and what did GM go. They settle the lawsuits with confidentiality. Agreements that concealed the defense. It's. Did miss this defects. And permits had to say -- does not know how an advance airbag system that is mandated works. It's simply an admission. Of and compensate from the agency. Furthermore in 2007. -- engineers recommended in an investigation based on 29 complaints. 29 crash it's 25 injuries and four deaths. Yet management did not improve. Investigation. And instead. Management began in 2008. To open. Equipment queries that generated content partners of inconsequential recalls. Take an example. -- -- made an aftermarket sunroof. -- -- -- preformed are proud pro forma credit recall farms. To them the equipment -- dollars the shops. There's just simply install one or two route certain groups that generated a hundred -- and eleven recalls. From that well. Another case involving. Wheelchair tests that were installed once again. One -- activities by small -- keepers generated -- 123. Recalls. So instead of opening an investigation into the ignition switch. -- people die an unknown numbers and the poll is only going to rise. -- and initiate investigations into after aren't sun -- and scholars. Were there was not one known person killed. That's a failure every. -- we're gonna continue to monitor this news conference at Washington DC where some of the families. Crash victims from general motors' Chevy cobalt. While we're speaking out today talking about their loved ones -- -- accidents that cause the deaths or caused injuries or had experienced this kind of faulty ignition switch. Themselves. This all coming after they met last night with GM's CEO Mary Barr who expected to testify this afternoon about 2 o'clock. These families victims all the victim of the faulty ignition switches. They're going to be back on Capitol Hill with senators Ed Markey and Dick Blumenthal who have been. Bringing support that for a bill that would expand public access to auto maker's safety filings. I want to bring in ABC's -- -- at the capitol for more on this Bill Clinton jet and that the heart of today's conversation the fact. The General Motors had information about these faulty ignition switches but not did didn't do anything about it how does this bill is theoretically anyway. Make sure that this doesn't happen again. I mean there's no question -- the the new chairwoman of General Motors is going to be on the hot seat today she is going to she's already apologized. She met with the victims' families last night as he said Dan and she certainly is going to early weeks Specter to recount those meetings but. The lawmakers that I've talked to -- looking for something beyond an apology they want to know. How what happened and what will prevent it from happening again now she will say that she has already put to new safety measures in place that she is hired -- vice president for -- safety and other things but. There are questions that she is going to have to answer tough questions and all these situations these lawmakers will have these so victims' families and stories on their minds that we just heard. As -- as they -- Are asking the questions this afternoon and so -- one thing I'm sort of struck by this is such a different returned to Washington and Capitol Hill for a Marmara -- She expected she was sort of celebrated. I'm here just a couple months ago at the state of the union she was in the first lady's box she was hailed as the first a female executive of a major. Automotive company and now she is absolutely on the hot side these senators are are upset these members of congress are upset so I expect a pretty fiery hearing this afternoon. And that is going to be -- 2 o'clock this afternoon is senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts had laid -- essentially four points for this bill that they have been creating. Go through if you -- some of those components of -- that would. Potentially prevent something this from happening again -- in the first part is actually recording auto makers to submit documents about these kinds of accidents. -- he is he's calling for. I'm. Auto makers basically to -- present their plans. On the front end to say like how this would work can. And how these types of crashes and other things would be prevented he's been pushing this for a long time even back when he was in the house who was elected to the senate. From a Massachusetts last year so. He is going after this very hard and he is going to outline his supposition and his specific things tomorrow in the senate it brings this up. I'm not completely familiar with -- It pieces of his legislation ABC's Rebecca Jarvis is is covering this for us and she was down. At that press conference so she will certainly have more on this later but one thing it's absolutely clear politically speaking this is a tough day for General Motors. In -- at the same time with this part legislation also requires it was sort of more transparency which should be more publication. Are these kinds of reports that auto makers would be submitting to the Transportation Department also part of -- -- be upgraded databases. Ought to provide that the public and -- of the auto makers themselves. And also. Two that make more transparent the identification of some of these defects on there. -- does this the senate feels that important that both in congress -- the -- there's enough support for this kind of a bill to go through. I think there may be enough support for this kind of build into throughout the very least it's certainly draws attention to this that's what a lot of these hearings often are but one thing I was interested in just hearing just a few moments ago one of the victims' mothers -- calling for a Justice Department inquiry into this were. That things purposely being. I'm hidden by General Motors so that is another a line of inquiry into this so this is a real problem for General Motors. And a real -- -- problem I mean this is coming on the heels you know the the company coming back roaring back from. It's. It's government bailout just a couple of years ago here but you have lawmakers who were very willing to us support for this and go for this -- the legislation so. I think -- -- certainly possible with something like this could pass. He's far as how the committee is going to be questioning the CEO this afternoon. How closely are they going to be holding her accountable for this given the fact she was not CEO at the time when these recalled vehicles were were. Manufactured. And in fact that you it was under two or three other CEOs that most of these vehicles were produced. Is the house going to be looking for a personal who claimed responsibility for this. Issue was not. The near term and of the company that time your -- right but she was working -- the company and she has to take responsibility for what the company did I mean that's why we are seeing. Her apologize that's why we're seeing her meet with. With the victims and -- numbers GM is in -- public relations battle here as well so I'm. While they cannot hold her personally accountable if -- are going to ask tough questions a lot of these congressional hearings are huffing and puffing. And other cancer but. -- it it it's clear the General Motors now with the recalls. I'm I believe reaching some 2.5 million they have a major problem on their hands and this is just the beginning of these congressional inquiries so this is the beginning of the road for them not the end. -- Christian in fact whose daughter amber Marie rose died. In July 2005. Spoke to Mary -- last night and she wrote this on her FaceBook today. Yesterday we met with Mary -- we told her about the loved -- we lost because of GM's -- Tears flowed and many Kleenex were used at least by us. There are Jeff as you pointed out there a lot of questions that need to be answered this afternoon on on the hill -- -- -- executives facing its could potentially face any kind of criminal charges in relation to these. Failures. I think that's unclear I would be surprised if America -- would because -- -- as we've said she was not in this position but if the Justice Department would. Decide to launch some type of an inquiry in that would certainly be an open a road that they would -- pursue. So I think I'm I'm again most of these congressional inquiries are a lot about the you know looking top huffing and puffing and asking tough questions but with those victims' families in the room -- this is a a very difficult day for for those families you know and a -- -- -- image -- for General Motors and -- up at the same time we have always recalls going on across the country. At local dealership six -- so this is something that actually. But touches every member of congress. You know all across the country. It is so we're not going to see things a divided really by party line here this is something where. You know. Even though a lot of Democrats are sort of the leading this inquiry we saw them speaking -- today this is something that hits home forever. Legally speaking there also complications given a fact the losses that have been claimed about this. In the way in which General Motors had filed for bankruptcy correct because that. Been happening in 2009 and that was when the White House had asked the current CEO at the time Rick Wagoner to step down. And how was an act Chris -- effect could that play out given these revelations this afternoon. Well that was not disclosed at the time -- and will. One thing we've heard over and over and over. And at this press numbers -- just talking with other lawmakers as transparency so they are going to. And I'm in a sense the government has a big -- share in this as well in some of these so lawmakers who voted and supported those. -- bailouts I think. That's why it makes this a little bit more personal because. Some of these things were not disclosed at the time. And perhaps they should have been. At that moment. Give us what ask what this -- -- possibility of some former CEOs being called to testify. Wolf find out I mean that -- certainly is a possibility these studies investigative committees can -- effectively. Subpoena it's more the legislative subpoena but they could. -- -- He's a former CIOs. A CEO -- former executives into testified I haven't heard any. As specific a confirmation that -- is going to happen but. If this goes further down the road that certainly is something that is. Is always a potential and these hearings -- -- are going to play out in. It televised chambers you know it's going to be sort of a dramatic with. You know very tough questions. And not many answers on me now there's always so many times someone can apologize for this so. I'm we'll see how that plays out this afternoon but again a big. A moment a big challenge for General Motors -- just -- talks by the government's role and responsibility in all this for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Potentially turning a blind eye to these issues what about the fact that the government also was essentially in ownership of General Motors for such a long period of time during that bankruptcy. Well certainly sounds like a conflict of interest of course is a very different parts of the government here. But you know if you were a family member or fewer victim and those are parts are certainly some. Some questions that they have was the government turning -- -- But to these very things because they wanted to company to succeed. I'm wolf sort of find that out as this goes forward -- -- Them again that's. One of the questions that -- these congressional inquiries on both the House of Representatives and the senate are trying to look into if there were any of these issues here so I'm this -- The beginning of a very potentially long road here for General Motors. ABC's -- -- on capitol Jeff thank you for your time in southern -- that. Of course you can keep up with today's testimony from GM CEO Mary bar in real time today at 2 PM eastern. Downloading the ABC news app star in the store for exclusive updates on the go. For now -- on -- Cutler in New York with this ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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