GM's CEO Before Congress Today on Recalls

By CBS News

Published 04/01 2014 06:09AM

Updated 04/01 2014 06:47AM

WASHINGTON, DC -- She's only been in the position since January, but today, General Motor's CEO Mary Barra will testify before Congress about deadly ignition switch issues in millions of its small cars. At least a dozen family members of victims will be there looking for answers about why the company took so long to recall millions of cars.

Family members of victims killed in crashes linked to an ignition switch defect in some General Motors vehicles will be on capitol hill today.
"This is my daughter Kelly Ruddy. She died in a Chevy Cobalt," says Mary Ruddy.

GM has recalled 2.6 million small cars this year, including the Chevy Cobalt, because their ignition switches could suddenly move to off or the accessory position while the cars are in motion.
Today CEO Mary Barra testifies before a House congressional committee about the defect..which the company has linked to 13 deaths.

"There's nothing that she can truly say that's going to make up for any of this," says Laura Christian, who lost a relative in one of the crashes.

In prepared testimony Barra apologizes to the families and says , "I cannot tell you why it took years for a safety defect to be announced, but I can tell you that we will find out."

Lawmakers will focus on a background report, that among other things, shows issues with the ignition switches date back to 2001.

They'll also ask the acting head of The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration why it twice declined to investigate:

"You don't need dead bodies lying all over the ground to show that this is a safety defect. The agency has the authority to research, to investigate," says former NHTSA administrator Joan Claybrook.

NTHSA says in its prepared testimony that GM didn't share information that may have lead the agency to launch an investigation sooner. 

(Susan McGinnis CBS News)

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