Shortly after President Joe Biden’s announcement he will Use battle powers to hurry baby formula As for store shelves, the House of Representatives voted on bills that would have little effect on the crisis.
Under one of the bills that Democrats pushed through the House of Representatives on Wednesday evening with the help of 12 Republicans, the Food and Drug Administration will get $28 million to expand commercial infant formula supplies.
The House passed another bill on a broad bipartisan basis that would codify steps already taken by the US Department of Agriculture to ensure that low-income mothers rely on any form of formula available in stores rather than the usual single brand. Use special meal vouchers. permitted by the program.
It is not clear whether either of them can reach Bill Biden’s table. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.N.Y.) said he would seek unanimous consent to approve the bills, meaning any senator could block the legislation.
“AndI hope no one will block itSchumer said.
Meanwhile, Biden’s invocation of the Defense Production Act of 1950 could accelerate supplies to domestic formula makers and bring home finished formula products from overseas.
“I have instructed the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services to send aircraft overseas to pick up infant formula that meets US health and safety standards so that we can get it on store shelves faster, ” Biden said in a video message,
It is one of Biden’s most decisive actions as president, and stands in stark contrast to last week, when the White House suggested that the lack of formula was entirely the problem of the Food and Drug Administration.
The White House, however, did not say how soon the shortfall could improve. According to Datasembly, out-of-stock rates for the formula have exceeded 40%.
Formula shortages were exacerbated by the closure of Abbott Nutrition’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan, where FDA inspectors investigated the condition and maintenance problems while investigating a rare bacterial infection in four infants who consumed Abbott’s formula. History found.
Abbott is one of just four manufacturers that produce the vast majority of infant formula consumed in the US.
This week Abbott announced that the plant would reopen under a consent decree with the FDA and the Justice Department, which would require the company to bring in outside experts to ensure they meet the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. We manufacture formulas strictly in accordance with the guidelines of the Department of Justice, which the company accused of infringement.
For the law, Rep. Rosa Delaro (D-Conn.) said the additional $28 million would boost FDA inspection staff and help “to prevent fraudulent products from entering the market, get better data of market conditions, and fund” Will do Balance FDA activities to prevent shortages from happening again.”
Maureen Tkasik, a senior fellow at the Economic Liberties Project, a think tank that opposes concentrated corporate power, questioned why Congress should pony up any funds for the FDA in the wake of serious violations by a massively profitable company.
“It boggles my mind that the FDA requires this emergency appropriation and they can’t fix Abbott for that amount,” Takasik said. “It’s a $44 billion company that has spent more than $15 billion on stock buybacks and dividends over the past three and a half years.”
Dividends and stock repurchases enrich shareholders and are often criticized as a missed opportunity to invest in production, which appears to be the case with Abbott. The FDA and the Justice Department stated that Abbott’s own records “documenting the history of internal degradation of the spray dryer” were used to manufacture the powdered formula at the Michigan plant. FDA inspectors also found standing water and leaks throughout the facility.
Peter Pitts, a former FDA associate commissioner during the George W. Bush administration, scoffed at the $28 million idea for the FDA to address the shortage of formula.
Pitts said, “The FDA needs this money on a consistent budget basis to hire more inspectors to deal with more regular surprise inspections because the way you eliminate shortfalls is to make sure that The manufacturing base can remain open, producing high quality products.”
Most Republicans opposed the $28 million, even though it is a small amount in the grand scheme of the federal budget. He has said the FDA should have detected the problem sooner and allowed Abbott to reopen the plant.
Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) called the Democrats’ bill “a bill that continues the reckless majority spending spree without actually fixing the infant formula crisis this administration has caused.”