- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 6, 2014

With public fury growing over General Motors‘ handling of faulty ignition switches in some of its vehicles, Sen. Claire McCaskill said Sunday the auto giant now faces a “real moment of truth” and must make restitution to the families of those killed by the defects.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” the Missouri Democrat continued her harsh criticism of GM, which is now scrambling to recall and repair 2.6 million vehicles with serious safety defects. Those defects have been linked to more than a dozen deaths.

“I think this is a real moment of truth for General Motors. They’ve tried to lawyer up and play whack-a-mole with these lawsuits, and terrible things have happened,” Ms. McCaskill said. “Now it’s time for them to come clean, be transparent and most of all make victims whole no matter when this deadly ignition caused heartbreak in their families.”

At issue is whether GM acted quickly enough. Lawmakers, including Ms. McCaskill, have alleged that GM engaged in a cover-up and tried to downplay the severity of the ignition problems.

Complicating matters is the U.S. government bailout of the company in 2009. There is speculation the government may bear some of the responsibility — financial and otherwise — for the death and injury that occurred.

“I think a lot of this depends on when the knowledge that we know the engineers [at GM] had was, in fact, transferred up the chain,” Ms. McCaskill said when asked about government culpability, adding that ongoing investigations will shed more light on the matter.

Last week, GM CEO Mary Barra appeared before committees on Capitol Hill and said the culture at the company has changed.

“Today, if there is a safety issue, we take action,” she told lawmakers. “If we know there is a defect, we do not look at the cost associated with it, we look at the speed at which we can fix the issue.”