The White House’s actions regarding the current nationwide baby formula shortage have received contrasting responses from U.S. officials.
Formula has become incredibly difficult to find on store shelves, with USA Today reporting nearly 40% of brands ran out of stock last month.
According to the USA Today report, President Biden spoke with formula manufacturers and retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Gerber, and Reckitt on Thursday to see how the shortage affects parents and what efforts can be made to get more product into stores.
Later that day, Biden took additional steps to ease shortages, such as increasing imports, but the White House said it does not know when stores may be able to restock their shelves.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave a press conference last week to let Americans know the White House “hears the cries of babies and knows that babies are hungry.” She made it clear the U.S. government is aware that something needs to be done now.
Rep Frank Pallone (D-NJ) also noted he would support Biden’s efforts, tweeting out, “The baby formula shortages demand an all hands on deck response. I’m going to do everything I can including working with the Biden Administration, FDA, and manufacturers to increase production and supply of formula ASAP.”
The goal is to get safe baby formula in homes where it is needed.
Jen Psaki, press secretary for the White House, claimed the process has “been underway for months.”
“We hear you, we want to do everything we can, and we’re going to cut every element of red tape to help address this,” Psaki added.
Despite these efforts, some Republican members of Congress have questioned why President Biden and his administration failed to act sooner, asking for a more definitive response.
Representative Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA) said she has heard from nurses in her district that this crisis needs immediate action.
“This is a matter of life or death,” Rogers said.
North Carolina Republican Senator Patrick McHenry said congressional Democrats should be doing more to pressure the administration into action.
“This is not meant to be a partisan exercise,” he said. “We’ve come together because we don’t see Democrats raising the same issue and willing to work with us to get some answer from this administration.”
USA Today reported that the FTC is also being asked to look into price gouging and handle it swiftly so that parents do not have to pay more for formula.
The FDA announced it is taking new measures, such as expediting the import process, but the agency has not provided details about when families could see inventory level out.