tv Politics Public Policy Today CSPAN November 20, 2014 11:00am-1:01pm EST
they had no geographic boundary and the injuries that occurred, 45 injuries because of rupture in honda vehicles, 43 of those correlate to the time of those takata manufacturing concerns. and to our regret, all four fatalities correspond to that same time. so we're talking about recalls that were done 2008 to 2011 because of different manufacturing issues that takata made us aware of and pretty strong data that shows this is what where the majority of the problems have been occurring, and those recalls were national -- were -- not -- >> i wasn't saying they were regionally limited. just you have these recall after recall after recall when clearly there's these red flags. the reason it matters so much so this constituent who's permanently blind is this was in 2013. it just seems -- it's a different manufacturer. but if takata had done a more
global look at what was happening on a -- global i mean in all their air bags, i don't think this would have happened. so to you, mr. shimizu, and that is a november 6th "new york times" article stated takata secretly conducted tests in 2004 at your auburn hills location p-in response to the rere lease of metal fragments issue with the honda accord. according to the article, the steel inflators allegedly cracked during the tests and takata ordered the testing data deleted and the air bag inflators destroyed. takata has disputed the report saying the report was based son some misunderstandings. what specifically about the report was inaccurate? >> yes, senator. again, it's regarding the incident of honda vehicle in 2004 according to my knowledge
it was informed to takata in may of 2005. there is no way we can do any test relating to that unfortunate incident before hand. and also the series of incident happened in 2007, and at that time we actually started investigation about the -- to identify the problem. and that time we have the series of tests of the inflators, and all test result since 2007, that's the starting point of the investigation by us, is shareded with automakers and also ntsa. >> okay. so just to get to the -- go back to 2004 another time or in writing, but my issue is my constituent got blinded.
of course she was driving a bmw, but it had received docume documentation from takata indicating that bmw vehicles were not affected. so what documentation did takata provide to bm sfwhshgs because, remember, this is post 2007 now. we're not back in 2004. we're in 2013. so i'm asking specifically about bmw. and if you don't know, you can send it to me later, but i would like to know what documentation was provided to bmw about their situation. because they told ntsa they knew about hoon da's problems with recalls, that they had received documentation from takata indicating that bmw vehicles were not affected. >> senator, can i confirm one thing? is it driver's side air bag? >> i believe it's driver's side.
>> yes. let me answer best on what i know. we do the recall of honda vehicles at that time, and as you know, senator, multiple times is called psdi. it's dual-stage driver's side inflator. other time the bmw, we supplied to bmw is psd i-4. and the psdi-4 is a structure of the inflator. looks same from our side but different from psdi and produced in a different line so, that's the major reason the psdi was recalled. but we answer to the bmw the psdi-4 is a different structure so it won't be affected.
>> so this is my last question. when did you become aware that there were problems with the bmw? air bags. >> i'm sorry. i'm not familiar. i don't know the actual date. >> all right. thank you. >> just so it's clear to everybody, what we're talking about, this is the steering -- middle of the steering wheel. this is the inflator. and it fits in there. and then when the impact occurs, the explosion is supposed to come this way, but as we said earlier, if the explosive force is too great, it breaks off this metal and the metal starts coming through the middle.
every one of us at this hearing table has had constituents affected by this. in florida, right in central florida, we've had one death. and in the case of corey b berdicht, a firefighter, he has no eye now for the rest of his life. very similar to the situation of the lieutenant, but in this case the metal had penetrated his actual eye. so this is why we're so concerned about this an to get to the bottom of this. senator ayotte. >> i want to thank the chairman and ranking member for holding this very important hearing. i wanted to follow up, mr. shimizu, with -- on a question that senator clohad as you about in regard to the
report in "the new york times" about the 2004 secret tests by takata. as i heard your testimony in response to her question, you said that takata wasn't informed until 2005 about a particular incident? and what incident was that? >> incident is happened 2004 at the honda vehicles. and according to whey know the driver was injured. >> okay. and then you said there were a series of incidents in 2007 that prompted an investigation within takata. >> yes. >> when was ntsa first notified? of any of this? >> it's -- according to my lawyers, three incidents happened during the year of 2007. that's actually what led to deeply investigate the cause of
the problems. >> why wasn't with the -- with the 2005 incident, was there any investigation conducted within takata? >> we did. we received the picture, not exact module, but we received the picture and our engineers [ inaudible ] based on the serial number provided. and then we, as i said, our engineer recognized anomaly from the picture. however, all record doesn't show any system error or any abnorm ti from the personal record. and then at that time, there not enough technical evidence to lead to further investigation or action at that time. >> to -- so you didn't take any further steps to investigate the anomaly that your engineers saw?
did you report it to anyone or did you talk to ntsa about it or honda or anyone else? >> according to my understanding, we didn't inform the ntsa but we report back to honda. >> throughout this, i would like to understand whether takata believes that, as it receives reports -- and i'd like to also inquire of mr. schostek from honda -- when it received reports of both incidents of injury and unfortunately these horrible incidents of death, when do you believe that you reported them to ntsa? and do you believe you have complied with the tread act? >> want me to answer that, senator? and if i might, to supplement the discussion you've been having with mr. shimizu, the first event of a rupture in a honda vehicle occurred in 2004.
we received notice of that event through our legal department in may of 2004. we are still checking our records, but as mr. shimizu said, what we can find now is we provided that information to takata in 2005. we did report that 2004 event on our tread report, which is provided to ntsa. as we were discussing, in 2007, there were several events. and it was at this time that we and takata engaged in the beginnings of an investigation. ultimately in that investigation, takata has made us a presentation that show the 2007 events and the manufacturing efficiencies that cause the defect and also
compared it to that 2004 event. the 2007 event, those manufacturing times clearly show improper density in the inflator propella propellant. the 2004 event ultimately, it was fully investigated, and it shows a proper density for the inflator propellant. so it's not an excuse, senator, but that information -- that information we could have gleaned maybe in 2004 would not have helped us predict the events in 2007. as i look back on our activity, i think we acted with urgency. but do i think there are -- we could have moved fastener some respects? i absolutely do. have we met our obligations to report tread? we have not. and i think as the committee may know we have an ongoing internal review about that process.
that information is due to be provided by honda to nhtsa on this coming monday. we will provide it on time and share with them any gaps or deficiencies in our tread reporting at that time. >> i know my time is expired here but let me just say that i echo the comments of my colleagues. this really does warrant a thorough investigation because because these time frames, the reporting requirements, the questions that have been raised, and as you know, gm undertook this activity with regard to the ignition switch. and given the seriousness of this matter, i would think that takata and honda would want to undertake the same. so let me urge you to do that as well. and my time is up, but mr. councilman, let me just say
i'm troubled about the december 19th piece because i think you should, instead of waiting for people to call you with concerns, should affirmatively reach out to your customers while they're wait till december 9th regardless of how you view the beta air bag differently than the alpha. so i think that -- i'm very concerned about that december 19th date. thank you. >> thank you, senator i ai ottawa, for underscoring that point. senator hiller. >> mr. chairman, thank you. and to the ranking member, thank you also for having this and holding this hearing. mr. shimizu, i did read your testimony. and it does discuss your anguish. and i can understand that. your commitment to addressing this issue properly and promptly. however, i think there was something that was amiss in your testimony, and that was that nowhere does it say that takata takes full responsibility.
so i want to ask you right now, does takata take full responsibility for this tragic defect? >> can i ask my interpreter to confirm your question? >> sure. >> senator, can i confirm the tragic this time -- which tragic are you talking snabt. >> i'm talking about the five deaths. >> the five deaths. five deaths. >> do you take full responsibility for those tragic deaths? does takata take responsibility? >> excuse me. i understand it's -- we
recognize the three victims' case is reling to our product, and -- during accident, but my understanding to others are still under investigation. >> so, okay. let's take the three. does takata take full responsibility for those three deaths? >> my understanding is our product products in this accident worked abnormally so, that cause accident. from that sense, yes. >> okay. mr. schostek, i got a phone call from my wife recent ly.
a "good morning america" piece was done on this issue. and she's probably doing what every parent is doing in america today. we happen to own a 2007 honda civic. and we didn't buy it brand new. so we probably didn't get recall notices on that. and my wife would remember if she did. and i'm going to give to you the same question that she asked me. if our 18-year-old daughter were to drive that car today, a 2007 honda civic, would she be safe? >> senator, we have several different analyses of what the problems are with these air bags in our vehicles. as i mentioned before, the recalls that we did in 2008 through 2011 we have connected those to takata manufacturing
issues, and we urge customers -- and those have no geographic limits. we urge customers to get those vehicles repaired because there is a risk. there is a risk. with regard to the more recent regional recalls, where there is not as much information available as to what is the cause of the ruptures in the air bags, there is a concern about humidity, and we have the same concern about humidity. we look at the 45 injuries that have occurred, 17 of them have occurred in florida, also puerto rico and texas. the large majority of these issues are occurring in southern areas. so we are trying to understand if there is any additional risk out there. when we find risk, we act to recall. it's our responsibility to recall those vehicles when we find risks. >> as a parent, we did run the
vin number through nhtsa's site, and they said that a 2006 or earlier vehicle would have been subject to the recall but not 2007. how can you assure me today that a 2007 vehicle is safe for any young adult on the road to drive today? >> senator, with your indulgence and understanding that i'm not sure of all the exact models as i sit here, you know, the break points in terms of the recalls, if that vehicle was subject to a recall, we want it fixed. if that vehicle is not subject to recall, we would not deem it risks and deem it safe for the driver. >> we had a conversation earlier in my office and you said it was difficult to determine the safety of the device because of proprietary reasons. would i be accurate in assuming that you can't be 100% assured,
not knowing what the necessary changes that were made in these air bags? >> senator hiller, we are not chemical propellant experts. as honda, there is proprietary technology involved. there have been improvements made by takata as time has gone on. for example, there's been -- there's differences in the shape of the propellant waefr wafer. i'm not an engineer. it makes sense that different shape may result in a better manufacturing process, but respectfully, senator, i would defer questions about the intellectual property and the proprietary aspects of the chemistry to takata. >> thank you. mr. chairman, my time has run out, but i think i represent every parent across america concerned with their young adults in the cars that they're driving today as to whether or not they have an air bag sitting in front of them today that may
cause severe injuries, as we've heard in testimony today and even death. so anyway, thank you. >> senator heller, let the record show that the pauses that occurred to your two direct questions to the two gentlemen, that those pauses i can say for this senator were painful, and perhaps on the basis of mr. schostek's response you better tell your daughter not to drive south in her honda. senator markey. >> thank you, mr. chairman, very much. in the audience today is kim cough. kim is sitting right over here. her sister was killed in arizona in november of 2003 sitting in
the passenger side to a subaru model that contained defective takata air bags, but that subaru model has only been recalled in humid states, which arizona certainly is not. so my first question so to you is, mr. shimizu, would you, first of all, given your testimony, agree with the position that nhtsa has taken, recalling that -- you have said so far that takata strongly agrees with the position stated by nhtsa that the recalls be limited to the so-called humid states. but on tuesday nhtsa finally changes position and calmed for a nationwide recall of all impacted driver's side takata air bags. does takata support nhtsa's new
nationwide recall? >> i understand it's nhtsa safe to change from regional recall to national recall. the reason behind is i understand is one incident that happened in north carolina. but -- >> do you agree or disagree with nhtsa's call for a nationwide recall, mr. shimizu? >> it's hard to answer yes or no. if you allow me -- >> it is not hard for you to answer yes or no. do you support the nationwide recall of air bags that the department of transportation has issued? yes or no. >> again, senator, i did take
the particular data from any incident to support nhtsa's new directions and as we [ inaudible ] with nhtsa and automakers to take care of issues. >> i'm going to take that as no, you do not agree with the decision by nhtsa. and i just think you're plain wrong here, and i think that it's very disturbing, i think, to any american family who has a vehicle with takata air bags to think that that's your position today after all that we have learned. i think your company is making a big mistake in not supporting this recall wholeheartedly. now, let me move on, if i can, to you, mr. schostek, and you, mr. councilman. kim cough's sister but killed with a passenger side bag.
i think there's a roulette-like quality to this hoping that the air bag that was instaumed in people's cars was on the drive's side that's now being recalled but not the passenger side? i don't think that's right. i don't think anyone should have to worry that any of their family members are in danger. kim cough has lost her sister. forever. does honda support a recall of passenger side bags as well given what we now know about the ticking time bombs that each one of thee air bags potentially is a risk to american families? >> senator markey, there are two confirmed air bag ruptures, passenger air bag inflator rupp which ares in honda vehicles. we've not experienced any injuries. they are part of the s.i.c. or the improvement campaign.
we have actually recalled in i believe it's ten states passenger air bags. we are actively working on that right now. again, those are concentrated in the humid areas -- >> do you support passenger side recalls that would be the equivalent of the driver's side recalls for these air bags, mr. schostek? >> we support passenger side -- we have ongoing a passenger side air ball recall. and for us the key is to understand what the -- what the technical information is that -- >> do you support not a voluntary or geographic recall but a nationwide recall of passenger side bags? yes or no, mr. schostek. >> as to a national recall, we have not refused. we're actively considering that, senator markey. right now our priority is -- >> you're being asked right now to that, mr. schostek. mr. councilman for chrysler, yes or no? do you support a nationwide
recall? not voluntary. not geographic. nationwide. do you support it? yes or no. stoo respectfully, senator, i want to point out that the answer to this question is obviously one we interact with nhtsa on and make decisions based quickly on the data. i haven't received that specific request, but i would respond quickly using our rigorous internal process to make that decision. >> these air bags are the same whether they hurt the lieutenant or they killed kim cough's sister. they're the same. and they should be recalled. and each of you should be today saying that you support that wholeheartedly. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. thank you for making it so direct, yes or, no just like senator heller did as well. senator blumenthal. >> thanks, mr. chairman. you know, i know that you're
here in good faith so, i hope you won't take anything i'm going to say personally. it strikes me that these air bags failed, but the system failed equally if not more. and first of all, i want to join senator markey and his calling for a national recall of all cars with these air bags on the passenger as well as the driver's side. we've made that point previously, he and i. i'm also calling on the secretary of transportation to immediately accelerate the replacement process, looking forwa forward, at the current rate of production by takata of 300,000 air bags a month, there is no way that they're going to be sufficient products available. so i ask you, will you cooperate
in an accelerated replacement process so that competitors of takata will be called upon to supply those products instead of takata? to each of you, mr. schostek and mr. kunselman. >> i can start. obviously, i mentioned again we have an obligation to our customers. accelerating the production of parts and getting this process done quicker is directly -- >> so that's a yes. >> i agree. >> and mr. shost chostek, will take non-takata parts to replace those air bags? >> senator, we want to get these cars fixed. the safety of our customers are our highest priority. all options are on the table. we will look at every option. >> well, i'm going to ask the secretary of transportation to order to do so, but i hope you will cooperate. you know, when i say the system failed, we're here because of
delay, nondisclosure, as well as potential deception, and concealment. in fact, both of your companies entered into settlements that were deliberately and purposely concealed in court orders. damian fernandez in florida, ashley parm, the first in 2006, ashley parham in oklahoma city in 2009, jennifer griffin, orange county, florida, 2009, gerget graphmore, 2009, christy williams in georgia in 2010. the first was driving a chrysler. the others were driving a honda. your companies settled with them. if that information had been
made public, more people would know about this deadly defective air bag and fewer people would have been killed. do you agree? >> respectfully -- >> mr. kunselman and mr. schostek. >> respectfully, i would highlight that that inconsistent did occur in the fall of 2013. i highlighted it in my opening statement. and while it's our policy when we enter into confidential settlement terms, the xis tebbs of that incident was not concealed in any way. >> but the details were and the devil and the death was in the details here. don't you agree? >> i would ask for a definition of details -- >> well, the details of how and why and what the role of the air bag was in that crash. mr. schostek, do you agree?
and will you -- let me ask both youf. will your companies commit to declining from now on to enter into these kinds of secret settlements? and concealing the facts surrounding crashes that result from defective products? >> senator, two of the cases that you cite with miss parham and his rathor, we provided information about those inflator ruptures to nhtsa, talked about them with takata -- >> but not to the public. your company deliberately concealed the facts that otherwise would have been known to the public as a result of this court action. >> i respectfully disagree. miss rothor's case was reported in the tread material. i understand your point that miss parham's was not, but we
were in talking to nhtsa 16 days after that tread report was due, giving them all the information we had about inflators. with respect to confidential settlements, our legal system recognizes confidential settlements so we do not intend to hide behind settlements. the safety information that comes out during lawsuits should be available to nhtsa and, as appropriate, that we could support the principle of others as well. >> mr. shimizu, i want to show you some standards that are used in testing american cars. these are standards used to test. they are specifically required by american law to test. were those standards used prior to the sending of those air bags to these american companies?
>> yeah, i'm not familiar this, but i'm sure the [ inaudible ] in the company knows about this. >> somebody in your company knows about it, but you don't know whether those standards were used? >> not in details. >> well, i would like to get an answer from you in writing after this hearing that these standards, they're u.s. car 24 standards, they apply to the substances used in the air bag, the hermetic sealing of those air bags to protect them from moisture -- you are unable to provide this committee an assurance that though standard were used and applied. i want to know from someone in your company under oath whether
those standards were applied to ef air bag design. in other words, if the change death signs were changed over years. and whether they were tested with those standards when there were reports of defects. >> senator, yes. if you allow me, talk to our engineers and get back to committee about the response. is this acceptable? >> thank you. and let me just conclude. i hope that your companies will join in supporting the legislation that i've introduced, sunshine in litigation, legislation that would prevent these kinds of settlements that contributed to the problem. the courts ought not to be complicit, and i hope that your companies will cooperate and join in supporting this kind of legislation.
thank you. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. senator mccaskill. >> thank you. mr. shimizu, is your company the only company that uses aimone yaum nitrate? that manufactures air bags? >> senator, i don't know in details what kind of materials exactly our competitors using, but i have heard some of the competitors also using similar kind of materials. >> well, the information we have is there are four or five companies that make air bags and that your company is the only one that is using ammonium nitrate. let me ask you this question. are you still using ammonium nitrate in the manufacture of your air bags? >> yes, senator. >> okay. well, that's worrisome to me. and let me now move to krils ler and honda.chrysler and honda. i'm confused and i guarantee if i'm confused your customers are confused. letter that congress sent to
nhtsa june 2014, i'd like these three letters to be made part of the record. >> without objection. >> although chrysler has not made a determination of the defect in the subject air bags, it is chrysler's intention to conduct a field action to replace the drive bag inflators as well as the passenger air bag inflators between da dash, da, da. i'm guessing a lawyer wrote that paragraph because then i have a letter from honda that said, we've determined the potential defect relating to motor vehicles' safety risk. that was in the weight. then another letter from honda in 2014 saying we've decided to conduct a safety improvement campaign. we have not made a determination that a safety defect exists. then you go down the list of the notifications. and i'm going to start in june of '14. we have a service campaign, then a service campaign, then a honda
safety recall, and then a mazda service campaign, and then a mitsubishi service campaign, then a nissan safety recall, then a nissan service campaign, then a nissan safety recall. then we have a subaru safety recall. then we have a subaru service campaign. dund thei do you understand the issue here? what's going on here is a refusal to characterize a problem in a way that is clearly understandable to the consumer. we have been -- had more recalls in the last year and a half in american car manufacturing than in the history of american car manufacturing, probably more in the last year than we've had in many, many years combined. the problem is i don't think that people are driving these cars understand the risk because you guys aren't even comfortable with being consistent as to whether or not you're telling nhtsa it's a service campaign or
a safety recall. in your mind, mr. kunselman, other than avoiding litigation and liability, why would you differentiate between a service call and a safety recall? >> yes, senator. ill like to startly bisaying it's chrysler's policy that, regardless of which way these actions are initiated or how they're characterized, recall or field service campaign, the customer facing information is identical. we profile the same information with nhtsa and the mailings that go to our customers are the same. >> do the mailings say that this is a safety recall and you are in danger and you need to get this car in? or du it say this is a notice that this part has been recalled without any emphasis on safety? >> it's my understanding it does characterize it as a safety concern, yes. >> well, i would like to see for all of though ones that involve your companies, all the service
campaign versus safety recall, ill like to see the notices that went to your drivers. i would like to see the language of those. and if, in fact, the language isn't saying that goes to the drive ts, why is the language different to nhtsa? >> i guess the characterization that we -- in terms of how we characterize these events, again, chrysler is agreeing to do this with one incident and a lack of understanding of root cause. i know this will sound like engineering terminology, but the thing that is still open in this instance with these beta inflators is an absence of a defined root cause. an absence of a defined root cause, it makes the next steps difficult in terms of what to do. i think this is a nuance of definition as to why you see these characterized this way. >> and, mr. schostek, do you say the same? the reason there's a difference in characterization to nhtsa --
is your notification to kroyour drivers identical as the to whether or not it's a safety campaign or a service recall? >> there's confusion here. the regulatory framework that we're operating under has serp terms. i'm not an engineer. i've asked the same question. what's the practical difference for the customer? and i've been told none. they need to bring their car in. now, behind -- in terms of how we're looking for evidence of risk and so forth, that should be the manufacturer's responsibility of working with suppliers and working with nhtsa. but, senator, i would support if we could make this clearer for consumers, honda is happy to work with -- >> are you sending the same notification to your drivers whether or not it's a safety recall or whether or not it's a service campaign? >> senator, i would like to double-check, but i believe they're very similar notifications whether it's a service campaign or a safety recall. our interest is to tell that
customer to please come, please call, please come to a dealership, please get the part replaced. whether that replacement is for the purpose of an identified defect, which is the recall, or the purpose of getting more information, which is the safety improvement campaign. i think we should help the consumer by not having these so unclear to them. >> i'll tell you what, if i get a letter saying we're investigating something, would you bring your car in so you can help us? i'm busy. if i get a letter that se, hey, if you drive this, you could have a piece of shrapnel embedded in your eye, if your daughter is sitting in the seat next to you, she could be blindedover you could die, that's a lot different than, hey, we're checking out an investigation, could you bring it in so we could check it out. too many lawyers -- we found this in gm, as you all know, you had to have followed it closely -- there were lawyer ls who were trying to avoid litigation. there were not lawyers that were trying to make sure every consumer knew the danger. and we have got to get out of
this defensive crouch about liability litigation and get into an offensive position about making sure drivers are safe. and until your companies decide to do that, until nhtsa is a more able and aggressive partner in that, consumers are going to be in the dark. i mean, the exchange between senator heller about whether or not his daughter was safe was incredible. he's a united states senator and asking somebody in charge of the company that made his daughter's car, whether it's safe for her to drive it, and it was clear you weren't sure how to answer it. that's a problem. we have a problem. so, we're going to keep having these hearings and keep working on legislation and keep yelling at nhtsa until we get this right for the driving public. this is unacceptable. thank you. >> thank you, senator. senator cantwell. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to follow up on a couple points that my colleagues
have made, and i share their frustration and angst over this situation when there's, you know, such a pause or, you know, it's -- we're jut doing what nhtsa says. i think today's hearing is a very good opportunity for us to discuss what are the changes to be made, not what nhtsa requires today, but now that we're here, what do we need to improve situation. but first i want to follow up on this air bag recall situation as it relates to the passenger side. so i wanted to ask you, mr. shimizu, if we actually -- would you be able to meet demand if it was for all the passenger side air bags? would you be able to meet that demand? or do we need, you know, the secretary to help in expediting with other manufacturers? i heard mr. schostek say well, if that's -- to senator blumenthal's question there was a little bit of -- i read hesitancy into that, well, we'll
see what nhtsa says. so i'm asking you now, can you meet that demand on the passenger side bags? if not, let's get to the bottom line here. >> bewe committed a certain volume to provide for replacement kits, which is in the beginning of this recall of the passenger side air bag. currently we are producing 300,000 case per month and in tot totals. and then we understand it's -- we have to speed up the preparing for replacement kit. so we will add two more lines in january, and we also committed in the beginning, and we're doing to do as committed and there's gnaw replacement parts of 450 million kits. also, we do some effort.
we have an inflator plant globally. the plant in mexico is mainly producing the inflator for replacement, and they are running full capacity right now. so we found out that general plant has extra capacity, so we decide to move some of the products from mexico to germany to open up the capacity in mexico so mexico can open up some capacity to generate more inflator for replacement kits. >> so you're saying you have capacity. is that what you're saying? you have capacity and the secretary doesn't need to take action? it shouldn't be a mystery here. we should be clear whether we need more capacity by other suppliers or not. >> if -- we understand we have to speed up the replacement kits. we increase to 450,000 maybe still that speed enough.
so we are discussing with automakers and any other option we can take to speed up the replacement. ap answering to your questions, i'm not sure. there's a couple -- >> maybe i'll ask the other two. mr. schostek, do you think we need to have the secretary take action? yes or no. >> at the present time, we have enough supply for the demand. but the demand could change based on future actions. so i'm not in a position to judge takata's -- takata's ultimate capacity here. for us all options should be on the table to get parts replaced in customer vehicles. >> okay. i have about a minute left and i want to get to another point, but i'm going to follow up on this with each of you and with the secretary. but why are we not here today
discussing why not make manufacturers responsible for 100% recall success? ? the gaps that i see -- first of all, i don't see an e-mail system here. i don't see an amber alert, and yet we have people who are dying, and we're hiding behind, well, we had ayn greemt and we did a settlement and then in the settlement nobody really knew what was going on. my understanding is germany ha more like 100% recall success. we have a gap here with people who are second purchasers not knowing, because you're communicating with first -- my understanding first buyers. so why not just say that you're responsible for getting 100% recall? it's your -- the cars are yours. they're out there in the public. there's lots of tools we can use. but why not set a better goal than what we have?
>> 100% would be what we want to achieve, too, and that's what we're trying to achieve right thousand. we are trying different methods. we haven't got 100%. especially in older vehicle populations, we are -- we've been unable to achieve 100%. i don't know the average recall completion rate. i believe, but i'd want to check further, i believe it's about 60%, 70%, 80%. to me that's not good enough. >> my understanding is that germany is getting like 100%. so -- >> right. and what -- i would just submit to the senator in my full written opening statement we talk about that. germany, to my understanding, has a process whereby if a car -- before a car with get registered it needs to be checked if there's any outstanding recalls. similar to in some states in the united states an emissions
certificate precedes registration. please don't misunderstand. honda is going to take -- use any new tools or innovative tools to find customers and get these recalls done nap's what we want to have happen. but there could be some support on a state level or, you know -- for recommend daighs such as that. >> the more manufactures can talk about not what nhtsa does but what you would like to see, the bet they're will be. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator rubio. >> thank you, mr. chairman. this question is to all three of the companies involved. can you guarantee us here today that no one driving one of these vehicles joupt side of the territories currently covered -- florida, hawaii, puerto rico, the u.s. ri vi, the places with high humidity -- if you are driving one of these vehicles with one of these devices? it outside of these territory, can you guarantee us that no one will be injured by this device in the way we've seen in other places? >> maybe i'll start. as i mentioned in opening
statement, currently all issues from the past incident or past programs is already addressed and taken care of. and to my understanding, i believe that it's products we are purchasing right now. and -- and produce and well controlled processes and should work as designed and are safe. and regarding the recall you mentioned over the four states for the area. according to our record, this area due to the absolute environment -- >> i don't mean to cut you off.
my question is pretty straightforward, though. if you bought a car and have one of the cars with this device in it and you have spent the entire time in north dakota or south dakota, or wisconsin, not one of these places, can you tell us here today that you are confident that no one will be injured in the way we saw, for example, in florida. >> if it's not currently covered by recall, i believe a product in the car works as designed and safe as i said before. >> okay. so we're never going to read about a story of someone outside of these areas covered by the recall that have been injured in the same way that we saw, for example, in florida. is that your testimony? >> again, it's, i believe it's to be safe. >> what about the other companies? >> senator rubio, we have recalls outstanding that are connected to manufacturing
issues. we did these recalls 2008 through 2011. they had no geographic limit. those are uncompleted recalls, and i was just discussing with senator cantwell, our struggles to get those to get those completed. those customers, we want them to come in. there's risk there. we want those customers to come in. we want to get to 100%. >> my question is people not covered by the recall for various reasons, why they purchased the car. you're talking about the recalls that had nothing to do with geographic limits. >> yes, sir. >> i'm talking about the ones that do. if your car is not currently covered under the existing recall, you have nothing to worry about? >> we've identified higher risks in the humid areas, and that's what we're still working on right now to gather more information about those vehicles both there and in nonhumid states. >> yes. >> senator, i would characterize in my opening statement, i characterize this situation as an ongoing investigation.
and at least once during the testimony i reiterated that in the absence of defined root cause for the beta population of vehicles, i think we would find it difficult to guarantee 100% as to the risk outside of the geographic regions identified. i believe that test data and the incidents confirmed those areas are of high risk and utmost important to deal with those first. but with the open status of the root cause, i could not affirm your question. >> to the best of your knowledge with the minute i have left. to the best of your knowledge, did any of your companies at any time calculate that the costs of conducting a recall outweighed the benefits of alerting consumers and therefore decided not to move forward with some of this earlier in the process. in essence, was there a time where a calculation was made that it would cost so much financially to deal with this, that we're better off not doing anything about it because the safety risks don't justify it.
did that calculation happen at any of the three companies? >> i can confidently say that's not the case of chrysler. >> to the best of my knowledge, no, sir. >> not the case. >> last question, if i'm driving one of the cars now, what should i do? just go on about my life and not worry about it? if our customer has a concern, as a worry about driving a vehicle. >> should they have a worry? should you have a worry? >> again, we've, we don't we see the risk much higher in the human states. and it's an open as to what is the cause. that's what all of us are trying to get to right now with regard to these regional, this regional sic. >> senator rubio, i would say for the chrysler vehicles not covered by the recall, i would drive them myself.
>> senator rubio, they see the risk much higher and humid states. but associated press reported on november 17th that honda had quietly decided to replace impacted taakata air bags nationwide rather than just in hot and humid states. . and so they also indicated in those reports that honda had no intention of actually notifying customers in other states about the remedy. instead, as stated, they would have to go to their dealer. so, why did honda believe it was appropriate to provide a remedy but not tell anybody? >> right.
chairman nelson, this is not a secret or quiet policy. it's on the nitsa website and it's there because we put it there. this was a communication to our dealers. our dealers are asking the same kind of questions that senator rubio had. and when we want to deal with our customers' needs in the nonhumid areas, on an individual basis. if we find a customer that has a concern, we are asking our dealers to take care of that customer and replace that air bag. understanding that we believe the repairs are more priority in the humid areas. but we have an approach to our customers that we want to provide customer service. it's not secret, we didn't mean it to be quiet. we wanted to tell our dealers, if our customer comes in with a concern, please respond to that concern. >> so a dealer in senator
thune's state or senator klobuchar's state, but we're a mobile society. and there are people in massachusetts and minnesota and south dakota that drives south and come to florida during all times of the year. when the kids are out of school, they come also in the heat of the summer. isn't something missing here? >> we are looking -- we're doing our best to collect that information, sir.
>> mr. shimasu. this morning's "new york times" says, quote, two former taakata engineers said they and other employees had concerns over switching to a risky compound. they're talking about the ammonium nitrate from the previous compound. quote, it's a basic design flaw that predisposes this propellant to break apart and therefore risk catastrophic failure in an inflater, said mark lily, a former senior engineer with taakata at the propellant plant in moses lake, washington. mr. lily recently shared his concerns with our senate staff members. quote, it was a question that came up. ammonium nitrate propellant, won't that blow up? said michael britain, a chemical
engineer who worked with mr. lily at the moses lake plant. the answer was, not if it stays in the right phase. all right. now, in addition, the media reported various problems at the plant in 2001. and secret air bag tests in 2 4 2004, so why didn't taakata take action on any of these kind of concerns regarding the use of ammonium nitrate. >> let me briefly explain about aluminum nitrate. aluminum nitrate is, as i said
at the beginning, advantage to use it and it's a benefit to the users also and users also. but it's because -- it's chemical properties. the performance -- they performed. they don't perform as designed. and because that may influence the combustion characteristic. and that's well known in the industry. but talking about phase of this thing, it's going to manage the aluminum nitrate is staying
stable and it's during the process, processes, and also the environment. in my understanding, if in other words, we produce and the control -- moisture control environment, that will be stable in process in some occasion, we have some that appear as we did in the past. >> i did not interrupt you, an opportunity to answer the question. that doesn't answer the question. if, in fact, you knew about it as far back as 2001 and they
were doing secret air bag tests with ammonium nitrate in 2004 and you have your own engineers as quoted in today's "new york times" saying what they said that ammonium nitrate was the problem, then -- senators, any questions in a second round? >> may i ask a question? >> please. >> until two days ago, most of the recent actions taken related to defective driver side air bags were limited to so-called humid states. but 3 of the 4 deaths that were caused by exploding air bags in honda's cars occurred in oklahoma, virginia and california. not the humid states that this recall applied to. as the chairman was just referring to. south dakota, minnesota,
massachusetts, could have been in that category. when my staff asked nitsa about these deaths, they were told that the vehicles involved had been recalled for a different air bag manufacturing problem years ago. but that they had not been repaired. there is just one problem with the explanation. when my staff put the vehicle i.d. number of two cars involved in 2013 and 2014 fatalities through honda's recall data base, the database says these cars' air bags were repaired some time after 2011. either, one, your recall database is wrong. or, two, the defective air bag was replaced with another defective air bag. or three, the driver received a brand new air bag some time after 2011 and the air bag still killed someone just a few years later.
which of those three options is it? >> senator, i believe it's option one. that our website is -- has deficiencies. when we have multiple recalls that involve the same vehicle, our system was bringing up a message of recall completed for the ones that were superceded, if you will. it's our problem, sir, which is being fixed. we are due to report tomorrow about that. it is an embarrassing problem in this day in age that we have that technology problem on our website. >> all right. so this goes back to the senator's question and others about the safety of families driving these vehicles. what you're telling me is that someone buying a used honda today could look up the car they want to buy on your recall data base, be told that a repair needed to fix a fatal safety defect was completed, even though it was not.
and i think, again, that just goes to the whole question of whether or not the public should feel confident that they have a family member driving these vehicles. >> sir, i agree with you. that could happen today. i'm bound and determined to check and make sure it can't happen tomorrow and it won't happen again. >> and i'll just say, again, mr. chairman, i don't think it makes any sense for a passenger air bag aside recall to occur. otherwise, they'd be in the backseat because they're just really running a huge risk. given the fact the very same air bags that deployed and ready to hit dangerously a passenger. >> and, gentlemen, you need to know that i'm going to be meeting with secretary fox. i'm going to request of him that he impose the maximum penalty
allowed by law. even if that's $1 million a day. on the automobile companies, if you're not providing a loaner or rental car to the folks who potentially would be driving a death track. as simple as that. senators, we need to move on to the next person. >> what is the maximum number of replacement parts you'll be able to provide? >> currently, it's all provided from mexico for american market. 300,000 per month at this
moment. but it will be increased to 450,000 a month from january. >> 450,000 per month. that is the maximum. >> that's our plan right now. >> and one more question. what steps have you taken to improve the assembly of the inflater, the container that senator nelson showed you? what steps have you taken to make the inflater more leak proof and waterproof? in other words, more resistant to water coming into it or humidity. >> a couple step -- couple step already we have taken to improve the problems, improve the robustness. and we are discussing with our car makers the current product as i said, it's safe from -- if
they came out from processes. but ways to improve the robustness against the humidity. to discuss about how we can improve the robustness from now. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. >> okay, gentlemen, thank you for your participation today. call up mr. david friedman of the deputy administrator of the national highway traffic safety administration, nitsa.
we'll have our senators and you can make your point in response to the questions. i'll defer my questions and do cleanup at the end. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. friedman, another apparent fail in the auto industry. and these issues with the faulty air bags are the latest in the long line of recalls the focus of multiple hearings held by this committee and the house of representatives this year. >> i was wondering if you could shed some light on why we're seeing such a flood of safety issues recently. and do you believe this recent experience indicates a broad and systemic problem within the industry? >> senator, one of the reasons why ranking member, one of the reasons why i think we're seeing the increase in recall is because the auto industry is running scared. the auto industry realizes, one,
that nitsa has been pushing them hard to establish a new normal. where we expect them to recall vehicles quickly, to notify us quickly, and to find the problems quickly. i think they're also very concerned about and as they should be about the actions that congress has taken to shed a light on serious problems in the auto industry. and i think they're also reacting to the media attention that has been observed. they're cleaning out their closet, and it's truly a shame the fact it took all of this attention for them to do so. i asked 12 major auto makers. i called them to way washington to talk to them about the need for a new normal when it comes to recalls. no more hiding information. no more hiding behind attorney/client privilege. no more waiting to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt there's a problem. no more fighting us when we have clear evidence of defects.
they need to act much more quickly. adds we've done with over $160 million in fines. >> in 2010, the examination into the scope and timeliness of honda radicals involving driver side air bags citing and, i quote, insufficient information to suggest that honda failed to make timely decisions on information it was provided, end quote. what was the insufficient information at issue and knowing what you know now should the agency have kept that inquiry open? >> senator, we're just beginning to look into the details of what happened at that time. i expect to be able to provide you more details on that going forward. my understanding, my current understanding is that we understood that taakata had identified the batches involved with the manufacturing problems.
it's been made clear to us they do not have good quality control and does not have good recordkeeping because further down the road, they had to update indicating they had not provided us with that information. that is one of the key reasons we are demanding under oath they provide us answers about all of these recalls, all of the tests they've done on air bags. we will pore through that. and if they failed to live up to the law. i would say, though. one of the things we would like to see is a cig can increase in our ability to hold them accountable. right now, we're limited to just $35 million for any single infraction. frankly, for too many of these companies, that's pocket change. the secretary and president have
asked for that to be increased to $300 million, and if you give us that authority, we'll use it aggressively. >> it was their failure to disclose to you that the information that could have shed an additional light on this and you closed the inquiry because you thought you satisfied all the questions you had. but that was a failure on their part to provide information. in noncompliance of motor safety laws to blow the whistle. the government regulators, but if that information leads to enforcement actions where more
than $1 million in monetary sanctions is involved, that whistleblower could receive up to 30% of that. is that a concept that you could support? >> senator, we welcome every bit of evidence, every bit of information that can help lead us to root out any of these problems. i look forward to reading your legislation, i look forward to evaluating. one of the things i think would be crucial in general, but also with such a proposal is to ensure we have the resources, the people and the dollars to follow up on those leads. this year alone, over 70,000 consumer complaints. these are critical to us find g finding -- finding these problems. we get 6,000 reports a year from the auto industry. we need more people to be able to follow up on all that information. >> thank you, mr. chairman. time's expired. thanks. >> i agree with you, mr. friedman. you do need more resources.
and thanks to senator thune for being willing to push forward on this question on the whistleblowers. senator klobuchar. >> thank you very much, senator nelson. first of all, i think you maybe heard me talk about the victim in our state who is permanently blinded from the north oaks, minnesota, she was driving her bmw in 2013, it was a 2002 model. and this is sad because it'd been going on for so long. the "new york times" report about the secret task in 2004 and now here you are in 2013. mr. friedman, according to the family, they never received confirmation that from this so their case was being reviewed. i don't know what actions, follow-up actions, the family itself filed something in 2013. and you know if anything ever reviewed the complaint that was filed by the family and what
happened. >> we're looking into this as we speak. i know your staff is alerted to us just this week. but we put eyes on every single complaint that comes through nitsa, that comes through our website, our hotline that people mail in. we put eyes on all of them and follow up and we try to piece together the information that provides. i'll look further into this to tell you exactly what happened with this. >> okay. obviously this complaint was filed after it happened. given all the recalls have trickled out, might have helped someone else. and then going back in time, nitsa's call this week, now we're into this week for a recall that expanded beyond the regional recall finally got at people in minnesota who might be actually snow birds, believe it or not, some of them abandoned our state in the winter. and they actually spend their
winter months in southern states and their vehicles, then, they drive down there and drive back. their vehicles are exposed for an extended amount of time to high humidity. and they were not included in the previous regional recalls. and you didn't think there was a need to include those type of vehicles. >> this is indicating the dew point temperature, an indication of the total amount of water in the air. all the initial incidents that caused us to open this investigation. we started with three complaints. we acted rapidly based on those
three complaints. we connected the dots. all three, there were three different car companies. all three had air bags from taakata. we connected those dots, as well, these were all in humid regions. we opened an investigation and got the auto industry to begin recalling vehicles in days. so we acted aggressively in this case based on the information we had at the time. now, we -- because we didn't want to see anyone else hurt from these problems, part of what we did is we pushed the auto industry. we can't wait for another one of these incidents. you need to get out there and work with taakata, test air bags returned so we can figure out, is this a broader problem. we can't sit here. now, if -- as we did that, as we tried to gather that test data, we were also monitoring field incidents.
initially what we were working with. five incidents that were all in florida. this was a problem related to exposure to high temperatures and high humidity. high, medium, dew point temperatures. >> were they all in part of the southern part of the united states. >> it was only these. >> then they got. >> to extend their regional recall to that area. at that point, that could, could have been an outlier. >> uh-huh. >> then, at the end of last month, we received a complaint from an incident in north carolina. >> uh-huh. >> we acted quickly. we reached out to the consumer.
we verified that it was, in fact, an air bag rupture. the pattern is now clearly broken for the driver side air bags. >> okay. >> while all the incidents initially were around here, now we have an incident here and here. >> right. >> areas of much lower temperature and humidity. >> okay. >> based on that information, we called on taakata and all the auto makers involved with driver side air bags to recall those vehicles. >> the types of cars. so this is an issue for the family a bmw car. bmw told nitsa it was aware of the air bags under honda's recall but taakata told them that bmw vehicles were not affected.
did they base this on taakata's information? >> i believe that's accurate. one of the things, frankly, that needs to change and needs to be more effective is suppliers and automakers need to do a better job of sharing incidents, especially when you have a common supplier. right now, all too often, automakers keep their incident data to themselves. >> can they legally share that information? >> well, this is one of the things when i called to washington that i began discussing with them is we've got to figure out a way without violating antitrust laws that they can share critical safety information. there should be no barriers. >> agreed. >> and we also talked about suppliers. i was talking to them about taakata at the time because both in the gm case and the case, part of the concerns are communications between the auto industry and the suppliers. that has to get better. >> got it. all right. maybe there's something we can work on. thank you.
>> senator markey. by the way, of course your written testimony will be a part of the written record. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator markey. >> thank you very much. >> how can you justify calling for a mandatory nationwide recall with taakata driver side air bags while continuing to allow patchwork of voluntary or regional recalls for the passenger side air bags? >> senator, two things, first of all, these regional recalls are not voluntary, period. i have in my hand the same letters that each of the car companies are sending to all the affected consumers. this important safety recall notice from honda. i was frustrated on them calling this a service campaign. this is a recall.
they also very clearly state honda has decided. >> why are you not making the same recall of passenger side air bags? >> that's based on the data. if we could switch to the test charts. because we didn't want to be in a position of waiting for another rupture. we pushed the auto industry and taakata to test all over the country. >> can i just ask you to do this? her sister died in a passenger side air bag accident. what do you tell kim and her family about her sister? and everyone else's sister now sitting in the same passenger seat in vehicles across the country given the fact that kim has lost her sister.
her sister was driving a subaru in a nonhumid state. why not issue that same recall order as a result? for every passenger side air bag, as well? >> what i say to you, this is the first i've heard of your accident. please, get us the details of what happened. i want to know what happened to your sister. it's an utter tragedy, clearly, what happened to your sister. if we can get information from you on what happened so we can determine if this was an air bag rupture outside of though regions, you could help other americans protect themselves. we will always follow the data. we will always follow the information. that's why we pushed the automakers to test it. the challenge we face, senator is if without information, the safety act requires us to act
based on information about unreasonable risk. if i have no information about an unreasonable risk outside of those areas, then i'm not able to force the automakers to recall outside those areas. in a situation, look -- >> no -- >> the limited air bag supply. what you're potentially doing, senator, if i did another recall without the data is putting someone's life at risk. >> her sister was in arizona, okay. goes up to 110, 120 degrees in arizona. that can be driven over to southern california, driven over to texas, could be driven to florida. you don't know what any of these family members are going to be doing. it could be a used car. i just seems to me that you as the agency chief should err on the side of safety knowing these vehicles move from state to
state. as the senator said, the chairman said, people are going to florida from pretty much every state in order to escape the cold in the winter, in order to visit disney world, and we know that. an accident could happen. and so why don't we just recognize the mobile nature of our society, the danger that each person runs, and by the way, i don't accept the fact there is no risk in really warm weather in arizona or other states. because we have other states here that are outside the humid area that have had these incidents. i just don't know why you don't say to all these families who have already lost people that the least that's going to happen is no other family member of any other family in america is going to suffer the same thing. >> senator, that is my solemn goal in doing all of our efforts. to put safety first.
if we have evidence that indicates this should be a national recall, we'll do that. right now the challenge, senator is, what you're asking me to do based without information is to put someone's life at risk in florida based on a lack of information elsewhere in a situation where air bag supplies are limited. they're not even saying they support your recall right now. how can you trust a company. and the answer as to whether or not they support, they can't give an affirmative answer to that. that is a frightening answer from a company who is responsible for ensuring that all information about the danger of these air bags is made public. you should just err on the side of safety. finally, if i can, toyota believes the passenger side air
bags are so dangerous that the whole deal is to disable them and to warn passengers not to sit in the passenger seats. you think "today" was right to warn the dealers and vehicle owners in that manner? the median to failure is ten years. if you're coming in and out of these states or in them for only a short period of time, the data does not indicate you're facing the same risk as someone who lived there. further -- >> answer the toyota question before my time runs out. >> senator, you can drive a vehicle without someone in the passenger seat. but even if you drive a vehicle without someone in the passenger seat, if that air bag ruptures, that driver is in danger. therefore disabling an air bag and putting a label on that vehicle saying do not put anyone
in this passenger seat is a way to protect the driver from a dangerous air bag. >> so you approved toyota's plan to do that? >> senator, it's not a question of approval. these are defective parts and therefore they are broken parts. >> well, if you did approve that plan, why didn't you tell other manufacturers to issue the same warning? >> senator, as i said, we did not approve this one way or another. these are broken parts. and manufacturers are allowed to disconnect broken parts. >> this letter serves to acknowledge toyota motor engineering notification to the national highway traffic safety administration of a safety recall which will be conducted pursuant to federal law for the products listed below. and the product that we are referring to is the air bag that
is in discussion. and it says it will disable the front passenger air bag and advise the customer not to use the front passenger inflater is installed. >> that's our letter acknowledging. >> again, if that's the case, why not have a similar letter from every other manufacturer. to warn people of a potential air bag catastrophe. >> we do not approve remedies. that is us acknowledging to them what they told us. that is our way of holding them to the decisions they've made. it is not our letter telling them what to do. it is us acknowledging their steps.
it says to me you're seeing yourself as a detached processor of a decision made by a manufacturer of vehicles, toyota. that has tremendous implications for the other vehicle. that it has the same kind of air bag of catastrophic consequence. i don't understand how you can process something like this. agree with this, essentially, hold the manufacturer to the implementation of it and not simultaneously be saying this is the warning bell going off if toyota believes this is so dangerous that the other manufacturers, as well, should have the same responsibility to make sure those air bags are recalled. so i just say to you, mr. friedman, that from my perspective, there's a higher responsibility that as an agency we have to call you to. and i thank you, mr. chairman. and you will acknowledge because you heard the testimony today
that each of these automobile manufacturers are handling the recalls in a different way, which is all the more, adding confusion. you heard chrysler say they're not going to start until the middle of december. and of you got to have concerns about whether these automakers are responding appropriately. >> i have serious concerns. we have actually had to push chrysler before in previous cases to accelerate the production of parts to get notices out to consumers. i don't accept after hearing what they said. i don't accept that there's any reason why they should wait to notify consumers about these recalls until they have the parts. consumers need to know there is a risk in chrysler vehicles because of these air bags. >> do you have under law the ability to find them if they don't respond quickly?
to replace these defective air bags? >> we have authority under law to require an accelerated remedy. if we determine they have tools they could be putting into place to provide a remedy more quickly than they currently are, yes, we can require them to act. we are currently in the process to ask and determine that exact question. we've already, of course, taakata to increase the production to about 500,000 units a month. >> do you have the legal authority to fine them on a daily basis if, in fact, they are not replacing the air bags? >> absolutely, we can order them to accelerate the remedy. if they don't do it, we can find them.
>> you ought to start sticking it to the manufacturers with a severe financial penalty. >> senator, my understanding of the safety act is it requires us to -- before we can do that, that it requires us to be able to demonstrate they could be doing more than they could. we started from the beginning digging in, trying to understand, we're contacting other suppliers and trying to get them to be able to supply more air bags. >> i don't want to beat up on you, but if you could meet corey murdoch from central florida, the father of two little boys, a firefighter who now has no ability because he does not have an eye as a result of a piece of this shrapnel coming in his eye,
then it would seem to me that would give you the legal authority to whack it to these people to replace those defective air bags. senator blumenthal. >> thank you. mr. friedman, thanks for being here today. i -- i take your comments about going after the automobile manufacture manufacturers. i want to ask you about your responsibility 6789. the maximum they can commit to produce are 300,000 replacement parts a month. their hope, their hope is to go to 450,000. they are unwilling to commit to anything more than 300,000 replacement parts a month. which means, it will take three
years, and even if they meet the 450,000 goal, the hope, it will take more than two years. isn't that unacceptable? >> absolutely unacceptable. >> and so, will you commit to use the power that you have under the motor vehicle safety act, section 301.20, as you know, to order that the car manufacturer use replacement parts from other makers of air bags. >> senator, we will use all of our authority to the full extent -- >> i don't want a vague answer. >> senator. >> i want really a yes or no answer. because this is a pretty clear question. i know you'll use all your authority to do the right thing and with public interest, i want to know that you'll recommend to the secretary of transportation that you will order the automobile manufacturers to use replacement parts, even if it
means sharing proprietary information with them so they americans are kept safe on the roads for the next 2 to 3 years. >> senator, if i can determine that can be done safely, absolutely, i will. absolutely. >> how long will it take to make that determination. >> we are in contact with two different air bag suppliers. we are asking them what their capacity is, what their compatibility is. there may need to be tests involved to ensure. because each air bag is tuned for each car that they will be safe. we're hiring an expert in propellants and air bags. we're seeing the contracts with an expert in propellants and air bags. we need to get all of these people involved in making sure. >> well, i understand your testimony has said you've been in communication with other air bag inflater manufacturers to assess the capability those companies have to fill replacement parts.
you have the power to order them to break exclusivity agreements, to share proprietary information. i want to know by when you will finish that determination. >> senator, i will finish that as soon as we can determine if that is safe. i have to put the safety of those replacement air bags first. i will do so, and we will do so as quickly as humanly possible with the resources congress has provided us. >> mr. friedman, would you agree with me that there's more than sufficient reason to believe that nitsa was not furnished with enough information about these defective products. >> senator, excuse me. i can't prejudge a case. but we have, because of the exact same concerns you have, we have demanded under oath
information that will reveal exactly that. these are gut wrenching -- >> well, i know you have asked for this information under oath, but, you know, when i was a prosecutor, we have something call called probable cause, which is enough to indict. i recognize you don't have criminal authority. you would agree with me that there is pretty close to probable cause here to believe you weren't given the information you need to protect the public. >> senator, i'm not a lawyer, so i don't know the exact meaning of probable cause. but i will say i don't trust that they have provided us wi with -- we know that they have not always provided the auto industry with accurate information of all the loss involved. we haven't always gotten the information that we need. we're looking into this. i have serious concerns and will hold them accountable based on the findings. >> so far as the information
that's concerned, the maximum penalty now is in the range of $30 million. as you know, senator markey and i and senator nelson our chairman have proposed the accountability act which would list that $35 million cap -- would eliminate the cap. would you support that legislation? >> senator, we will take all the authority you give us and use it to the full -- >> you support the legislation. >> senator, i -- we want that raised. >> that's a yes? >> the secretary has asked it to be raised. me personally, david friedman, if you give me the authority to do more, i will gladly accept that. >> well, don't you agree as the current acting administrator that $35 million, $300 million may be inadequate for some cases as this one where people have died as a result of failing to report sufficient information. >> there's no doubt that the more, the greatest fines we can
levee on the automakers, the greater power we can have to keep them establishing the new normal that we need from them to always provide us with all the information they need and to quickly act on that information, and to never fight us when we provide them with the data like we are in driver side air bag that these recalls need to happen nationwide. >> my time has expired. but i just want to finish by saying, by making the request that by the beginning of next week you come back to this committee in writing after consulting with secretary about how quickly you will have a determination as to other companies that can provide these replacement parts and whether you will recommend to the secretary, in other words, the
time line for finishing that process. and i hope it will be measured in days, not weeks. i know that the secretary of transportation, i've talked to him on a number of cases shares our concerns on this committee, very strongly shares concerns about the american public. and i commend him for not only sharing those concerns but also acting to a point, the administrator, which we welcome. and i would like you to give us a date by which you will make a recommendation as to how replacement parts will be accelerated under 301.20 of the motor vehicle safety act so that americans can be provided with those replacement parts as quickly as possible. otherwise, we will be waiting two to three years the most optimistic estimate, two plus years under the more realistic
estimate, three years for americans to be safe on roads on american roads with these air bags in their cars because they can't be replaced if there aren't the parts to replace them. thank you. >> mr. friedman. i agree with you that you don't have the resources that your little agency needs. and i really feel sorry for your successor who has been named by the president. because as he goes through the confirmation process, there are going to be a lot of questions asked of him with regard to the conduct of your agency on a going forward basis. the amount of vehicles with air bags worldwide, senator blumenthal, is something like 100 million. in the u.s., the amount of air bags is something like 30
million. so this could be a problem of gargantuan proportions, that is going to need the aggressiveness of the federal regulator to try to protect the public. and we appreciate the hot seat that you're on. i'm going to be visiting with your boss who is the secretary of transportation. i'm going to ask him, as i've said earlier, to start socking it to the folks that are dragging their feet not answering questions with the financial penalties. that he has under law. and then we'll try to change the law so as to eliminate that cap. i want to thank everybody for participating. the meeting -- and before i adjourn, let me say that the record will remain open for ten days and all witnesses are
expected to answer any and all questions for the record from the members of this committee. >> i apologize. i'm wondering if i can say one more thing. >> of course. >> this is an agency of people who wake up every day with nearly 100 reminders of how we need more resources and to work harder to protect the american public. because nearly every day, 100 people die on our roads because of drunk driving, distracted driving, vehicle defects. each hour we come to work with over 2,000 reminders of people who are injured, over 2,000 people every hour of our need for more resources and to continue to improve and act aggressively to save peoples' lives. that is what every employee and what i do every single day,
dedicate ourselves to protecting the american public. we will work aggressively in this case. i welcome your support, i welcome the added resources we will act aggressively to protect the american public. >> we appreciate the dedication of the federal employees who often are not given that appreciation. and on behalf of the committee, i express that. we now have a new problem that we are addressing. which is in effect a live hand grenade in front of a driver and a passenger in the vehicles that have been enumerated. and it must be addressed and it must be addressed immediately. and with that, thank you, and the meeting is adjourned.
>> here's a statement issued by committee chair jay rockefeller who was not in attendance. i want to thank senator nelson for chairing this important and timely hearing on yet another safety crisis in the automobile industry that has killed and maimed americans for reasons we must uncover. he and senators mccaskill, blumenthal and markey have been on top of this situation and kept pressure on automakers who use the products. the statement continues, i am also greatly concerned about reports that vehicle owners cannot get their potentially deadly vehicles fixed because there aren't enough replacement parts. these consumers deserve automanufacturers and parts suppliers to do absolutely everything in their power to replace these dangerous air bags. has the authority to expand the number of air bag suppliers and
repair facilities. again, that from a statement from committee chairman jay rockefeller. later today, the senate intelligence committee considered the nomination of nicklaus rasmussen to be the director of the national counterterrorism center. he's currently the deputy director there and will testify on the center's ongoing counterterrorism operations. live coverage scheduled for 2:00 p.m. eastern. >> president obama will address the nation announcing executive action on immigration. live coverage on c-span, followed by your phone calls. here's more from a capitol hill reporter. >> joining us on the phone, to "chicago sun times" white house correspondent. good morning. >> happy to be with wow. >> can we start with breaking
down the groups that will be involved this morning. the president is going to treat a number of 4 million or so people here illegally. >> the majority of undocumented immigrants but have a connection to somebody who is here legally. most likely in most cases it would be a child who is a u.s. citizen or a legal resident of the united states. if you have -- if you're an illegal immigrant, an undocumented citizen and have a connection like that, you will qualify under the president's plan as long as you don't have a criminal record and you have lived here for five years hoar more. if you meet those criteria, you'll be able to get a work pumpt and no longer live under the threat of deportation. >> and it talks about another 1 million who might geprotection. how does that happen?
>> we're not clear. they haven't detailed a lot of that. there's a smaller group of the dreamers, which are the children who are living here in the country illegally but who were brought here as young children, from as young as 1 or 2 years old, their parents brought them across, so they had no malintent. they were brought here without knowing it. those people right now, there's some lumitations on that program. what the president is going to announce is an expansion of that program to include more people, so that's one group. and then there is another group of people who are kind of spo e spouses or other family members of folks that are here legally. if you maybe have, you're a u.s. citizen and have married somebody or have a relationship in some way with somebody who is not legal, there have been restrictions on how many of those people could become legal and what it would take to do so. and the president is going to ease those restrictions and
allow more people to become legal. it's all a way, the entire thing is premised on the idea that what you want to avoid is deporting somebody that's part of an established family in the united states. you don't want to break up families. that's what the president is trying to do. >> many of these people who may be covered under the approach, you also spell out people who may not be specified. you say farm workers and are there others who moy fall in the same group? >> generally speaker, if you don't have a family member in the united states or if you have not lived here for at least five years, you're generally not going to be covered by the president's order. there have been -- the reason i have singled out farm worker is there had been a real push by the agriculture industry and some in congress over the years to try to deal with that group. there's about a million undocumented farm workers, and everybody on all sides would like to get those people legal because, you know, it's terrible for the agriculture industry to
be relying on a group of people to do all of this work and yet they're under the cloud of possible deportation. the problem the white house confronted is if you pick a single group and say we're going to do this for farm workers then the construction workers ask why not us or the people in the hotel service industry or day labors. they concluded from a legal perspective, you couldn't single out a group employed in a single industry and say they're going to get protection. >> one of the thing you talk about those who might be protected is if they're going to receive benefits under the affordable care act. how that going to be handled? >> as far as we can tell, i have talked to officials in the last few days and the great likelihood is the folks who are going to get this protection, right, they're going to move from a completely illegal status to a more legal status are going to be able to work in this
country legally. they're not going to be under the threat of deportation, but the administration has decided it doesn't make sense to give those people access to government subsidized health care either through medicaid or the affordable care act, which you get subsidies if you're under a certain income level. that is a disappointment to the activists and the immigration community, but it would really inflame the debate even more than it already is, conservatives are truly opposed to the idea of giving that kind of a benefit to anybody who came to the country illegally. >> the president had dinner with democrats last night to lay out these plans. what was the reaction? >> you know, i think the dinner was primarily an effort to, you know, kind of rally everybody behind him, as he goes and makes this announcement. folks who came out of the dinner said he, you know, he laid out the reasoning behind it, and basically asked for their
support. i think what you will see in the next, you know, days and weeks is not only a defense of this executive action from the white house itself, but also from all of his allies, who you'll hear democrats on capitol hill all singing the same tune and also folks in the advocacy community, the various groups lobbying for this, they have their own lawyers. their own legal briefs prepared to defend against the expected republican criticism. so you'll see the white house hopes a very unified message of defense going forward. >> michael sheer with the "new york times." he's their white house correspondent to talk about the expected announcement on immigration this evening. mr. shear, thanks for your time. >> sure. happy to do it. >> and we want to know what your expectations are for tonight's announcement by the president. you can join the conversation at facebook.com facebook.com/cspan. sharon writes, real lives are on the line and deserve a chance to live in this country.
congress has been given a chance to act. now the president must. robert said bush went through a democrat congress and worked with them. obama is a rogue president who has no care for the separation of powers. he does what he wants regardless. you can continue to leave your comments at c-span chat on twitter or on our facebook page. >> brett stevens and robert kagan discuss president obama's leadership in the world as well as his handling of current u.s. foreign policy. they're joined by anne-marie slaughter and cnn host fareed zakar zakaria. it's a biannual event in toronto bringing together newsmakers and leaders to debate current issues.
>> i never heard that stupid thing. >> you don't know until your arguments have been totally destroyed. >> immediately. >> is it possible -- >> and then you've got to come back. you're shakien up. >> let's leave the bleeding hearts to somebody else. >> you don't know what to say, but you have to say something. >> i can't believe i'm about to say this, but dr. kissinger, you have six minutes. >> china opened its -- that's the kind of hypocritical argument that i find quite annoying. >> you're obviously trying to
get annoying even though you're not trying. >> women are effected by lunar types only once a month. men have raging hormones every day. as we noticed when dick cheney rampaged around the globe like godzilla. >> the question is, no, i won't let you -- >> the power to coerce. are we really prepared to say if you're successful enough, we should rip you off? you owe it to us. how dare you be so successful? >> if you start saying why do you want to punish the rich, i consider that basically a confession of intellectual bankruptcy because nobody on my side ever says that's what it's about.
>> imagine you need a world without religious fate, not just no place of worship, no prayer, no scripture, but no men or women because of their faith, dedicating their lives to others. >> once you create a plan, it makes us objects in a cruel experiment, and in order to supervise this, has installed a celestial leadership, a kind of divine north korea. >> ladies and gentlemen, welcome. welcome to the munk debates on president obama's foreign policy. my name is roger griffith. it's my privilege to be the organizer of this debate