House plans vote to ease shortage of baby formula as Biden pledges swift action

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that the House will take action next week to address the infant formula shortage that has left parents desperately searching for food for their children, as President Biden vowed to take action that would see more formula on store shelves within “weeks or more.” less “.

In a letter to lawmakers, Ms Pelosi said she would speed up a bill to give emergency authority to the federal food aid program for women and children to ease restrictions on the types of formula that can be purchased. About half of infant formula sold nationwide is purchased through the Women, Infants, and Children’s Special Supplemental Feeding Program or WIC benefits. Relaxing the rules can help ensure that recipients can purchase any available type.

“Children are crying and children are hungry,” Ms Pelosi wrote. “So we must take urgent action to protect their health and well-being.”

She said her fellow House Democrats were also working on an emergency spending bill to “immediately address the infant formula shortage.” It is not yet clear how much the measure will be or where the funding will go, but aides said one proposal being considered is to buy a formula from other oversupply countries.

“We have to move cautiously and quickly,” Biden said at the White House on Friday, when asked if the administration had responded quickly enough to the shortage that began in February. He described it as the most pressing issue he faces.

Regarding increased imports, the president said, “We have to make sure that what we’re getting is actually a first-class product.”

Biden said the FDA is taking steps that should yield results in “weeks or less, and get a lot more formula off the shelves.”

His quick schedule and Ms. Pelosi’s plans reflect a growing urgent need to address the shortage, which has become a national crisis and political challenge as Republicans work to arm the issue ahead of the midterm elections.

The White House on Thursday announced a series of modest moves to help increase the supply of formula, including plans to increase imports and speed up manufacturing.

Republicans have spent the past few days criticizing Mr. Biden for the shortfall, citing it as the latest example of Democrats being slow to meet the basic needs of American families, a key part of their campaign message.

Republicans stuck to a xenophobic argument point, amplified by Fox News and other conservative outlets, that Biden prioritized undocumented immigrants over Americans by providing pallets of baby formula for detention centers on the southwest border.

“American mothers and their children should not suffer because of the Biden border crisis,” Representative Elise Stefanek, R-NY, said. Posted on Twitter Friday.

A White House official noted that it has been mandatory by law since 1997 for border personnel to provide food, including infant formula, to detainees in their custody.

Democrats made #EliseStarvefanik a trending topic on Twitter on Friday, directing criticism at Ms Stefanik and other Republicans who questioned the practice and suggested that the alternative would be for the government to starve the children in its care.

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Biden was considering invoking the Defense Production Act to increase production.

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a Democrat from New York, and Rep. Raja Krishnamurthy, a Democrat from Illinois, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and the Subcommittee on Consumer Policy, letters Friday to the four largest fixture manufacturers asking for information on what they are. do to remedy the deficiency.

They said they were also seeking documentation from Abbott Nutrition regarding the conditions of its closed formulation manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Michigan, which resulted in the recall of many of its products after four children became ill; Two of them died.

On Friday, Abbott said it would extend rebates for alternative products through the end of August, in response to a letter from Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, asking it to do so.

Emily Cochran And Zulan Kanu Youngs Contribute to the preparation of reports.

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