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General Motors has hired Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer who helped navigate victim compensation issues in the wake of the September 11 attacks, the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, and the Boston Marathon bombings, to help the automaker navigate the recall of more than 2.6 million cars.
GM CEO Mary Barra announced the news during testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra today said the company has retained Kenneth Feinberg as a consultant to explore and evaluate options in its response to families of accident victims whose vehicles are being recalled for possible ignition switch defects.
Barra made the announcement in testimony before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“Mr. Feinberg is highly qualified, and is very experienced in the handling of matters such as this,” said Barra. “He brings expertise and objectivity to this effort, and will help us evaluate the situation and recommend the best path forward.”
Feinberg is highly regarded for his handling of compensation issues related to 9/11, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Boston Marathon bombing.
“My mandate from the company is to consider the options for dealing with issues surrounding the ignition switch matter, and to do so in an independent, balanced and objective manner based upon my prior experience,” Feinberg said.
In her appearance before the Committee, Barra also detailed the company’s overall response to what she called “an extraordinary situation.”
“Our employees and I are determined to set a new standard,” said Barra “Our customers and their safety are at the center of everything we do.”
She outlined measures the company has taken to address the ignition switch recall:
- Commissioned two and asked for a third production line from supplier Delphi for new parts, which will begin flowing to dealers on schedule next week;
- Enhanced customer call center staffing, to ensure minimal wait times;
- Providing loaner and rental vehicles to concerned customers who drive one of the recalled vehicles;
- Retained former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas to lead a comprehensive internal investigation with free rein to go where the facts take him; and
- Appointed Jeff Boyer as new Vice President for Global Vehicle Safety whose first priority is to quickly identify and resolve product safety and customer satisfaction issues.
Barra reiterated her sympathies “to everyone who has been affected by this recall” and promised “to hold ourselves accountable” once all the facts are known.
Sylvia Mathews Burwell pledged on Thursday to take a fresh bipartisan approach to Congress on the law known as Obamacare, one of the most divisive issues in American politics, if confirmed by the Senate as the new U.S. health secretary.
At a hearing expected to be charged with congressional election rhetoric about President Barack Obama's healthcare law, Burwell said she would build on her record as the current White House budget director by working closely with lawmakers on "our shared priorities" and finding solutions to issues that "transcend parties."
"I have made responses to and engagement with Congress a priority -- working with members on both sides of the aisle to drive towards progress on the issues we all care deeply about," Burwell said in written testimony to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
She also described Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in new upbeat terms, saying the law has strengthened the economy and the middle class - two vital issues for Democratic candidates in November's midterm elections that Republicans are trying to turn into a referendum on Obamacare.
Her pledge of bipartisan cooperation could mark a change in the administration's healthcare relations with lawmakers, particularly Republicans, who have complained loudly about a lack of responsiveness under outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The path to confirmation is expected to be a smooth one for Burwell, a 48-year-old technocrat who was nominated by Obama on April 11.Barton didn't buy much of Barra's explanation though, calling it 'gobbledegook.'