House of Representatives democrats propose $28 million aid bill for infant formula shortage

The proposed aid bill would give the FDA funds to increase staff and prepare for future infant formula shortages.

On May 17, Democrats from the United States House of Representatives proposed a $28 million funding bill to address the nationwide infant formula shortage. The bill would give the Food and Drug administration (FDA) access to the funds to increase staff in charge of formula inspection before the product is sent to suppliers and also help prepare for future shortages.1

When asked about fund delegation within the FDA at a press conference announcing the proposed legislation, Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, and chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, said “What this does is divide [funds] up into formula supply chain monitoring and assessment for a million and a half dollars. Health fraud, state partnerships, laboratory methods, development, $3 million to the Office of Regulatory Affairs, social media data capture, analysis to identify unsafe infant formulas so we can track stuff online and [that is] half a million dollars. Then, it’s in infant formula and staffing, it’s $23 million.”2

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California addressed that while the Biden Administration has been monitoring the situation and putting steps into place to help lessen the shortage, more action is now needed. She also highlighted the unsafe importation of non-FDA regulated infant formula.

“The Biden Administration has been taking action since February. [The administration] provided more flexibility for the [Women, infants, and Children] program to boost accessibility, they worked with manufacturing to increase production and encourage importation of safe formula. I think the bottom line is they have been taking action, but we really feel that now more needs to be done,” Pelosi said, in the press conference. “One of the things that bothers me is that I found out in the last couple of days that people are now ordering, I guess through the mail, formula from Canada and other countries.” On May 18, President Joe Biden also invoked the Defense Production Act to aid in the baby formula shortage. The act allows the federal government to push businesses to prioritize production and delivery of certain goods and supplies during a dire nationwide shortage.

While the FDA’s announcement of infant formula importation flexibility from usually unutilized foreign countries will increase access, according to Pelosi, she expects that the newly proposed bill will help speed up FDA inspection process of those imported products, making them hit the shelves faster.

The legislation is expected to reach the House floor this week.3

References:

  1. Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022. United States House of Representatives. Published May 17, 2022. May 18, 2022. https://appropriations.house.gov/sites/democrats.appropriations.house.gov/files/FY22FORM_Supplemental_xml.pdf
  2. Transcript of Pelosi remarks at press conference on legislation to address baby formula shortage. Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House. Published May 17, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.speaker.gov/newsroom/51722-4
  3. House democrats release $28 million aid bill to address formula shortage. The New York Times. Published May 17, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2022. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/17/us/politics/baby-formula-shortage-house-bill.html