The federal government is notorious for creating a problem, then rushing in to create a solution to fix the problem it created. Even worse, these solutions often don’t really fix the problem, yet they end up costing taxpayers a pile of money.
The Biden administration’s plan to address the baby formula crisis is a prime example of this. The administration has known since last year that there would be a nationwide shortage of baby formula, but they did nothing to prevent it. They followed the exact same playbook they have followed since January 2021 – be informed about a crisis that is going to happen, wait for the crisis to happen, then blame others and scramble to figure out some sort of solution.
Instead of acting to prevent this crisis, the federal government did nothing. Last week, House Democrats pushed through a bill to supposedly address the baby formula shortage. It sounded good on paper, but the truth is HALF of the funds in this bill will not even be spent until NEXT YEAR. Parents can’t afford to wait until 2023 to get baby formula. They need it today.
My colleague Rep. Ashley Hinson offered an amendment to the Democrats’ bill to allow existing money for food-related supply chain issues to be used to fix the baby formula shortage. It would also direct the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to give a report on whether extra Federal stocks of baby formula could help fix the shortage and whether Federal transportation and logistics could be used to deliver this formula to folks who need it most. It would also prohibit the FDA commissioner from traveling anywhere until he fixes this baby formula shortage. Unfortunately, 218 House Democrats blocked this amendment from getting a vote.
The baby formula crisis is a real problem affecting tens of millions of Americans. According to the FDA, 67% of children “rely on infant formula for some portion of their nutrition” between birth and three months old. This means 2.7 million babies are in need of formula, but their parents are unable to find it anywhere. This is a crisis that needs to be addressed today – not next year. The fact that the Biden administration knew this crisis was coming more than six months ago but failed to act ahead of time is shameful.
Months ago, the FDA slowed down production of American baby formula to investigate suspected contamination at a Michigan plant. The plant they shut down supplies a huge portion of the baby formula in the United States. Despite no evidence linking this plant to contamination, the plant remained close for months. When this issue happened, the Biden administration should have loosened import restrictions and tariffs on baby formula imported from other countries. Instead, they waited to act until shelves were empty and parents were in desperate need. Our families deserve better than knee-jerk reactions from the Biden administration, and my colleagues will continue doing what we can to provide real solutions for the American people.
Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.
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