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Senators to probe federal auto recall response

Senators to probe federal auto recall response
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The Senate committee that oversees transportation issues is scheduled to probe the Obama administration's handling of a recall of defective airbags that were made by Japanese manufacturer Takata that has affected 34 million cars. 

The hearing comes after a report from the Department of Transportation's Inspector General revealed the National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) has weaknesses that the watchdog said are hampering the federal government's ability to spot problems at auto companies.    

Officials with the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee said the hearing Tuesday morning "will examine the role of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Takata defective airbag recall investigation, Takata’s remediation efforts, how car manufacturers are addressing defective Takata airbags, and ongoing oversight by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General." 

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Highway safety regulators in the Obama administration have come under fire for their oversight efforts after widespread recalls at General Motors and Takata in 2014 that involved parts that were first found to be defective years ago.

Lawmakers first took the highway safety agency to task last spring for its handling of recalls at General Motors that affected about two million vehicles. NHTSA officials were accused of failing to notice the trend of accidents involving GM's faulty ignition switch for several years before the recall was issued in February.  

The agency has faced criticism again this year as a recall involving faulty airbags that were manufactured by Japanese automaker Takata that started out affecting about eight million cars was expanded to include 34 million automobiles

The Senate panel is scheduled to hear testimony from NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind and the author of the report that questioned the agency's efficiency, Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel. 

The panel is also scheduled to hear from officials with Takata, Chrysler/Fiat and Honda North America.