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WASHINGTON — Congressional investigators began poring over boxes of internal General Motors documents on Tuesday, seeking to understand the decade-long failure by regulators and the company to act on reports of a defect in Chevrolet Cobalts and other cars. Also, two senators introduced legislation on Tuesday intended to help identify problems earlier.

Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, both Democrats, introduced a Senate bill that would make the auto companies give the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration copies of insurance claims made against them and lawsuits about fatal crashes in which they were defendants. They would also have to provide copies of internal safety studies related to the car model involved. Mr. Markey, when he was a congressman, wrote similar legislation in 2010, which passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but was not enacted.

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