Transcript: Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s press briefing remarks on GM’s ignition switch recall – April 1, 2014

Partial transcript of press briefing remarks by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) on GM’s ignition switch recall on April 1, 2014:

…Thank you to the families who are here today – the loved ones – whose courage and strength in being here today really is an inspiration. Never easy to come forward and to speak truth to power as they are doing today to tell the stories of their loved ones who deserve better. They deserve better from GM products.

Richard Scott Bailey, a man who served his country and who deserved better from it and from GM whose products he used. This Marine is a reason that we’re here today as are the other families because we know from GM’s experience that concealment can kill.

GM made a business decision to hide a defect not only to avoid repairing it but to conceal it. And it concealed it not only from its customers and from many of its employees, it concealed it from the United States government and thereby gave the justice system to obtain a complete shield – broad and blanket immunity from liability – for the lethal defects that it concealed.

And today, we have to correct that situation.

GM can do the right thing in three specific ways.

First of all, it can establish a fund to compensate these loved ones – the victims, innocent victims of GM’s concealment and defective product. Now, that fund will consist of money; it will never fully compensate these loved ones for the loss of their family members. But it is a start.

And second, GM ought to issue a warning that matches the severity of danger that its drivers now face behind the wheel of these defective products. It has failed to warn sufficiently that these drivers of these particular models are unsafe at any speed behind that wheel. And until they are repaired, they should not be driven. They should be repaired right away so they can be driven. There are a limited number of models. Dealers are doing the right thing in Connecticut 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 should be on the road endangering those drivers and others.

And third, as Sen. Markey has said, I call on GM to back the bill that we’ve offered that will establish accountability and reform this system so that defects are detected more quickly and disclosed more fully and fairly in a 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 here about a great American company. GM is an iconic great company whose luster and brand should be reclaimed and restored.

GM has the power itself to do the right thing despite the shield from liability and the pass that it’s been given, despite the business decision that it made to conceal these defects, despite the harm that’s been done. Now is the time for GM to do the right thing on its own, without prosecution and without the compulsion of the court.

Do the right thing, GM. Make this brand worthy of the great company that you have been, the great employees that you have, the great dealers who sell your products, and the customers who use them.

Thank you.

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