Lawmakers in both parties are calling for Congressional action on the nationwide shortage of baby formula after the White House’s failure to address the growing crisis. The formula shortage, which is the worst the country has seen in decades, has been worsening since April, and some parents who depend on formulas are beginning to panic. That panic, along with a lack of government action, is inspiring some parents to panic buy and make the crisis even worse.
Formula shortage stems from FDA failures
Many voters and some politicians have been angered by the fact that Congress and the White House agreed very quickly to send a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine while millions of Americans might be struggling to feed their children.
These are two very different issues, but the criticism is made valid by the roots of the formula shortage, which Congress should have the power to resolve if it begins to take it seriously.
The problem stems in large part from a February recall of some of the largest formula brands due to a contamination at one of the major production facilities.
That factory was shut down after the problem was detected and it still isn’t operating again, largely thanks to foot-dragging from the FDA.
Concerns about incompetence at the FDA already existed after it emerged that the agency had been warned about the potential contamination long before the facility was shut down by Abbott Nutrition, which owns the plant.
The FDA has not explained why it is taking so long to reopen the facility or why nothing was done to ensure that parents would continue to have access to formula while the problem was addressed.
Congress still slow to act
The contamination is believed to have led to two infant deaths before the facility was shut down, but as Utah Senator Mitt Romney pointed out, the FDA is not improving infant health by inadvertently creating a catastrophic shortage.
Romney and other lawmakers from both parties are attempting to get answers from the FDA, but progress is still slow and underwhelming given the seriousness of the situation.
Congress has the authority to force answers and action from the bureaucrats at the FDA who are holding up the formula supply, but it would require the kind of concerted effort that came so naturally when it was time to help Ukraine.
The White House, which should be even more directly capable of intervening to resolve the issue, has done little more than assure reporters that the FDA is working “24/7.”
Republican Representative Elise Stefanik, who is a new mother herself, has directly blamed the Biden administration for letting the shortage become so severe.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, suggested that Congress should pass new legislation to address the underlying issues in the supply-chain and the FDA that contributed to the formula shortage.