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Congress to Hold Additional Hearings on Ford Explorers and Firestone

Aired May 22, 2001 - 12:20   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAGAN: We want to take to Capitol Hill now. This is Representative Billy Tauzin of Lousiana. He is talking about the split, the ugly split between Ford and Firestone. Let's go ahead and listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REP. BILLY TAUZIN (R), LOUSIANA: ... was passed last year that made this information available to the company, and it is that information upon which they're making this decision. This decision, when it is fully explained by Ford, will impact a great many Americans who are using those Firestone products that are going to be subject to this recall.

This recall, as I understand it, will be several times larger than the Firestone recall that was conducted last year and will obviously take quite a number of months to complete. And so it will have serious consequences for many Americans.

Jacques Nasser and Ford Motor Company will, in their own press conference, explain their rationale and their reasons for this extraordinary decision to execute a recall on someone else's products that are used on their own products. And NHTSA will, in time, also I'm sure, brief you on their interpretation of much of this data and their own prospective decisions regarding these tires.

For our part, I will be recommending to Subcommittee Chairman Jim Greenwood and Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns ,the two subcommittees which conducted the joint hearings last year, that they should be prepared to do a public hearing on this issue when we return from the Memorial Day recess. That will give us time to prepare for that hearing and to gather information from NHTSA on its interpretation of the Ford data and the Ford decision that will be announced later today.

Let me say again that I think that had is an example of why the TREAD Act was so incredibly important last year. It has now, obviously, produced information that both NHTSA and the companies involved can make decisions in advance of getting a lot of data from the highways of accidents and deaths, in advance of those horrific calculations that can lead them to decisions like a recall that is going to be announced tonight. This is exactly what the TREAD Act was designed to do. The hearings that I will recommend will be an opportunity for us to examine how the act has worked, what are the conclusions we can draw from the information, the enormous amount of data that the act is now encouraged both the companies and the government agency to obtain, including an extensive array of new tests that have apparently been conducted on these tires, and it will give us a chance to see how well, in fact, the recall process works in protecting lives on American highways.

I want to now introduce the former chairman, first, of the committee who conducted the hearings last year and the author of the TREAD Act, Fred Upton for a few comments -- Fred.

KAGAN: We've been listening to representative Billy Tauzin of Louisiana. He apparently met earlier with Jacques Nasser, the president and CEO of Ford Motor Company. The latest news coming out of Ford and Firestone, Ford is going to announce later today the additional replacement of 10 to 13 million Firestone tires, the Wilderness AT tires, and more details on that to come later from the Ford company. Meanwhile, Firestone has ended its nearly 100-year relationship with Ford.

This is a bitter and very public split between these two companies that have a very long and profitable relationship. Also, the congressman announcing there will be further hearings in Congress about the recall and the replacement, the tires and the safety of Ford Explorers and Firestone tires.

More on this ahead. We expect the announcement from Ford where they detail the replacement between 4:00 and 6:00 Eastern later today. You'll see it live here on CNN.

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