Transcript: Rep. Diana DeGette’s press briefing remarks on GM’s ignition switch recall – April 1, 2014

Partial transcript of press briefing remarks by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) on GM’s ignition switch recall on April 1, 2014:

…As you heard, I’ll be helping lead the investigatory hearing this afternoon with Congressman Tim Murphy from 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 know that Congress is interested and cares very deeply and wants to make sure this never happens again.

I will say I’ve been in Congress for a while now. Every time, I see one of these tragic situations, as a mother it just makes my heart bleed. And I just want to thank everybody for coming today because I know how very, very difficult it is. And I want to assure them that as we continue with the investigation and as we continue with legislation in both the House and Senate, the lives that were lost will not be forgotten, and we will act.

Now, you’ve heard from my colleagues that GM knew about these defects in the ignition systems for over 10 years and yet they did not recall these cars. They did not recall these even though they knew that cars could turn off while going at highway speeds.

I’ve been thinking about this this weekend as a mom of a 20 and a 24-year-old. And what I’ve been thinking about is driving down the highway at 60 miles an hour, hitting a bump or turning slightly because your kid is in the back seat crying, and suddenly your car turns off. No air bags deploy. Nothing happens. Your car turns off. And that’s what happened to many of the families who are standing here today.

You know, people made more than a financial commitment to these cars when they purchased them from GM. They entrusted themselves and their loved ones to what they believed to be a safe and reliable vehicle. GM owed them that much.

Now, when I was at home in Denver last week and I found out this information, when I found out that there were more than 2.5 million vehicles who were a part of this recall, I had one message, and I will say that again today. If you own one of these recall vehicles, park it immediately and take it to your dealer and get it fixed. I wouldn’t let my children drive this, and I wouldn’t drive it myself.

GM is saying, “Well, if you just take the key – if you just take the key and you drive it with that, then you’ll be okay.” So I went in my purse and I got my keys. These are the keys of every mother in America today, and these are the keys that are hanging from the ignitions of these cars. And if you’re going to say to people, you can’t use these keys, then you need to fix it because it’s not realistic to tell people that they can’t use their keys to drive their cars.

Now, as we move forward with this investigation, our number one priority needs to be safety, and what we will be looking at today is when GM knew this information, why they didn’t tell the American public, and why the federal agency in charge of this – NTHSA – after 2000 when we passed the TREAD [Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability, and Documentation] Act, didn’t make this information available 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 I want to say to GM you need to cooperate with Congress as we investigate this important issue and let us know why this happened and what you will do to rectify this situation. Thank you.


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