Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Friday that the House will soon take up legislation and hold a hearing to address the nation’s baby formula shortage.
Supply chain disruptions in conjunction with Abbott Nutrition, one of the nation’s largest producers of infant formula, recalling three types of its product following multiple babies contracting bacterial infections have led to roughly 40% of supplies being out of stock by the end of April.
In a "Dear Colleague" letter sent to members on Friday, the California Democrat noted that around half of infant formula is purchased using benefits through the WIC program, which provides low-income women with food and formula, and announced plans to bring legislation to the floor aimed at providing “emergency authority” to address the supply chain problem by loosening regulations on the product.
“Thanks to the leadership of Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott, next week the House will bring up on suspension a bill to grant emergency authority to the WIC program to address supply chain disruptions and recalls. Doing so will empower the federal government to relax certain non-safety-related regulations during times of shortage so that we can get nutrition into the mouths of America’s babies. With this step, we maintain our laser focus on protecting the health and well-being of our babies — now and for the rest of their lives,” she wrote.
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“At the same time, Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro of the Appropriations Committee is holding a hearing next week and planning to bring to the Floor an Emergency Supplemental Appropriation to immediately address the infant formula shortage,” she said.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is also expected to hold a hearing on the matter the following week.
The announcement comes as Republicans have been highly critical of the Biden administration’s response to the shortage, with GOP lawmakers holding a press conference on Thursday alleging the White House has failed to address the problem properly.
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"Working families are already struggling to put food on the table due to the skyrocketing costs of everyday items, and now they are facing a crisis that is threatening the very lives of their newborn children," Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) said. "This baby formula shortage is hitting mothers all over the country, but especially in my home state of Missouri."