On Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives passed two bills to address the baby formula shortage. However, nine Republicans voted against the bill. One Republican leader, Steve Scalise (R-LA) sent out a memo advising members of the House to vote “no” on one bill.
While Democrats are lambasting Scalise and the other Republicans who voted against the bill, saying that the spending is reckless, does not offer any real solutions in the immediate time period, and does not hold the FDA accountable for its role in the shortage.
Rep. Steve Scalise said of the main piece of legislation: “(Speaker of the House) Pelosi proposed the legislation in hopes of covering up the administration’s ineptitude by throwing additional money at the FDA with no plan to actually fix the problem, all while failing to hold the FDA accountable.”
HR 7791 is a measure that will allow low-income women to purchase more baby formula through the federal WIC (Women, Infant and Children) program. HR 7790 is nicknamed the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022. This particular bill appropriates $28 million in emergency funds to the FDA to address the shortage. A total of twelve Republicans voted “yea” on HR 7790.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden authorized the Defense Production Act in order to ramp up production of baby formula in the United States. Biden also drafted a directive that orders the Department of Defense to gather formula that meets USA standards from other countries.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said that the bills are intended to “secure important flexibility for the WIC program to help vulnerable families buy infant formula in times of emergency.” Pelosi also related that HR 7791 would give the WIC program the ability to relax certain standards as long as they weren’t related to safety so that children could get the nutrition they need.
Steve Scalise’ memo said that the proposed bills, which will now head to the Senate for a vote, hopes to “cover up the (FDA)’s ineptitude.” While it is uncertain why it has taken so long for the Abbott Foods plant in Sturgis, Michigan to reopen – last week, Abbott posted a tweet that none of its manufacturing machinery was found to be contaminated but that the FDA still had not reauthorized the plant to reopen.
However, House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a new mother herself, proposed legislation called the Babies Need More Formula Now Act. Her bill would increase the supply of baby formula by decreasing regulations on imported formula; the legislation would also reduce the restrictions that new brands may incur when creating new lines of baby formula.
Stefanik’s bill would also establish oversight of the Food and Drug Administration with the intention of preventing future shortages such as Americans are experiencing currently.
Turnaround CEO Harry Wilson told Fox Business that a great deal of blame for the shortages was due to “bureaucratic bungling” at the hands of the Biden Administration. Wilson was responsible for assisting GM when the auto manufacturer filed for bankruptcy in 2009.
Wilson also said that an impending recession could also be on the horizon; Wilson said that the possibility of a recession is only adding to fears parents are experiencing in addition to the current shortage of baby formula.