White House press secretary Jen Psaki was grilled on the administration's reluctance to outline when she and her colleagues expect the country's baby formula supply to be replenished, but she expressed its strident support for providing immigrant families with the product.
"This is a really important question, but it's hard for us to make an assessment," Psaki told reporters Friday during her last briefing.
BIDEN IRKS PARENTS ONCE AGAIN WITH BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE
Psaki amplified President Joe Biden's and his aides' response to the shortage, prompted by Abbott Nutrition's voluntary recall of Sturgis, Michigan-produced powdered baby formulas in February because of contamination concerns. Four infants became sick with cronobacter sakazakii, and two died from the bacterium. The Sturgis facility makes 20 specialty formulas for about 5,000 infants and some older children and adults with rare metabolic diseases.
Calls for the Defense Production Act's deployment are complicated by the specialized nature of baby formula manufacturing more broadly, according to Psaki.
"Sometimes, bigger retailers have a more streamlined process for stocking the shelves than smaller retailers," she added. "We're working to ensure there is greater, consistent supply on the shelves for as long as possible."
Psaki was also pushed on complaints from Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) that the White House is "sending pallets, pallets of baby formula to the border." Psaki cited the Flores Settlement Agreement, which imposes basic standards of care for and release of immigrant children.
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"We also think it's morally the right thing to do," she said. "It is the law. But we believe that when children and babies, or babies I should say, are crossing the border with a family member, that providing them formula is morally right. And so, we certainly support the implementation of it."