The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration received a brutal one-two punch from Congress this week for its response to the General Motors ignition-switch scandal.
By the end of the lengthy session, senators had painted the unflattering portrait of a toothless agency in disarray.
NHTSA was hammered in a 45-page House report, and then grilled by senators during a hearing on Capitol Hill. Both on paper and in person, legislators picked apart the agency's plodding, seemingly inept responses to GM, and questioned NHTSA's ability to serve as a watchdog for the auto industry, which has faced extensive recalls, fines and controversy in recent years.
Deputy administrator David Friedman, who's only been with NHTSA since 2013, had few answers when questioned on the hill, and by the end of the lengthy session, senators had painted the unflattering portrait of a toothless agency in disarray.
Yes, there was some grandstanding. But legislators, and Friedman's responses to their often-testy questions, illustrated a valuable point – NHTSA needs help. It needs more power, more people and more money to effectively regulate on of the most complex industries in the nation.