By Corinne Murdock |
Following a controversial vote against a bill addressing the baby formula shortage, Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05) claimed that Congress’ plan would exacerbate the crisis. Not only that: Biggs ventured that the legislation, HR7791 or the “Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022,” would put the nation in worse shape amid the burgeoning inflation crisis.
Biggs explained that the bill would only bloat the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) at the expense of families. Only families between 100 and 185 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines qualify for WIC.
“Throwing tens of millions of dollars at the FDA — an agency arguably responsible for facilitating this crisis — is not a viable solution. Empowering the Secretary of the USDA so that they can waive administrative requirements for the WIC program is ineffective and artificial,” wrote Biggs. “This legislation would make baby formula shortages worse for most Americans. It will allow WIC to utilize a far greater portion of the baby formula market, crowding out many hard-working American families. The better solutions are to distribute formula currently in the hands of federal agencies and reduce regulatory barriers that would allow for the expansion of domestic formula production.”
HR7791 was one of two bills considered by Congress to address the baby formula crisis; it was passed Thursday in the Senate following passage in the House on Wednesday. It does not produce more formula, and it doesn’t help all families. Rather, it enables the FDA to scale back on its traditional regulatory powers to fast-track approvals and open up more options within WIC — not families outside the program. It was introduced by Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (D-CT-05) on Tuesday.
The other bill, HR7790 or the “Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act,” passed the House on Wednesday largely along party lines, 231-192, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats to pass the bill. HR7790 would allocate $28 million to the FDA to increase staffing, therefore increasing the speed by which it inspects baby formula prior to being sold, and to commence research on best practices to prevent future shortages.
Congressman Paul Gosar (R-AZ-04) also voted against the HR7790, joined by Lauren Boebert (R-CO-03), Matt Gaetz (R-FL-01), Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01), Chip Roy (R-TX-21), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA-14), Clay Higgins (R-LA-), and Thomas Massie (R-KY-).
The other legislators offered similar rationale for voting against the bill.
Boebert blamed the shortage on the FDA for closing the Abbott plant.
Gaetz noted that the legislation was just another emergency authority to grow government.
“All considered, government-empowered swings to markets typically create more problems than they solve,” wrote Gaetz.
Gohmert proposed a different plan altogether: remove the FDA from the equation entirely. He rebutted claims that the Abbott plant was shut down over contamination concerns, noting that the FDA found no proof to justify their contamination claims and didn’t employ a plan to cover potential shortages once they forced the plant’s shutdown.
“There was no easing of restrictions by the FDA, no reopening plan from the FDA and not even an apparent awareness of the consequences of their actions until there was a critical shortage and American mothers were unable to feed their babies,” wrote Gohmert. “The FDA got us into this mess and they cannot get us out of it.”
President Joe Biden announced earlier this week that he was invoking the Defense Production Act (DPA) and launching a program, Operation Fly Formula, to curb the baby formula shortage. The DPA will require suppliers to prioritize baby formula producers in their distribution above other customers. The program directs the Defense Department to secure baby formula overseas.