House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday defended President Joe Biden’s much-criticized response to baby formula shortages and instead turned her fire on nine Republicans who voted against a bill to help poorer women buy milk substitute.
Lawmakers will hold three hearings issue this week as they seek to find out what led to massive shortages across the nation.
Under intense political pressure. the Biden administration has begun airlifting supplies from Europe.
Appearing on Morning Joe, Pelosi was asked whether the crisis was an unforced error.
Pelosi said the idea of baby crying and there being no food in the house, ‘it hits home as deeply as possible.’
‘But we did pass last week two bills,’ she said. ‘One that overwhelmingly passed bipartisan, in terms of setting us on a course that it cannot happen again.
‘But the other, to have the money, $20 million-some to help facilitate baby formula getting to families and the Republicans voted against it.
How do you vote against some million dollars for baby food?
‘How do you do it?’
The nine Republicans who voted against The Access to Baby Formula Act last week
The Access to Baby Formula Act was passed the House on a vote of 414 to 9 last Wednesday.
Nine Republicans voted against it .
They are: Andy Biggs (Arizona)
Lauren Boebert (Colorado)
Matt Gaetz (Florida)
Louie Gohmert (Texas)
Paul Gosar (Arizona)
Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia)
Clay Higgins (Louisiana)
Thomas Massie (Kentucky)
Chip Roy (Texas)
The Access to Baby Formula Act would allow low-income women to buy more baby formula through the federal Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program.
WIC is one of the main drivers of the entire baby formula industry, buying up more than 50 percent of all product in the U.S., according to the most recent federal data.
It passed on a 414-9 vote in the House last Wednesday.
All nine voting against were Republicans, drawn largely from a Trump-allied fringe of the party including such firebrands as Paul Gosar and Lauren Boebert.
Several blamed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and said spending money to help low-income families would make no difference.
Gosar justified his vote in a statement to The Arizona Republic.
‘Spending nearly $30 million more will do nothing to the baby formula crisis created by the Biden administration,’ he said.
‘The fact is, the Biden administration’s FDA knew about the formula shortage for months and refused to work with the impacted baby formula manufacturing plant to enable it to reopen and get supplies back on the shelves.
‘Throwing taxpayer money at a problem and hoping it goes away is not a valid solution.’
The bill passed the Senate unanimously on Thursday.
The shortage was triggered by closure of the country’s largest formula manufacturing plant over safety concerns.
It got so bad that in 43 states more than 40 percent of formula was recently out of stock, according to Datasembly.
The head of the FDA said the Abbott factory in Sturgis, Michigan could be be up and running this week, although it will still take two months for its output to hit the shelves.
The FDA is also waiving some restrictions to allow more imports from overseas manufacturers.
The Biden administration said that shutting down the plant was the right thing to do at the weekend.
National Economic Council Director Brian Deese was quizzed on Sunday talk shows about why the administration was so unprepared.
‘The FDA did what it was supposed to do, which was assess safety and shutdown a facility in the United States, Deese told ‘Fox News Sunday.’
‘And that was a prudent thing to do because of safety. We’re dealing with infants and babies here.
‘Safety has to be paramount.’
Alimentum, Similac and EleCare formulas, made by Abbott, were recalled in February after five infants who used the formula contracted a Cronobacter sakazakii infection.
One of the infants died as a result.
More than 70,000 pounds of baby formula arrived in the United States on Sunday via military aircraft, President Joe Biden announced, as his top economics adviser pledged stores could see replenished supplies ‘as early as this week.’
The shipment from the US military’s Ramstein Air Base in Germany is the first in Biden’s Operation Fly Formula program, aimed at ramping up international imports of baby formula to raise US supply.
It’s one of several measures the president unveiled to mitigate the increasingly dire baby formula shortage that’s plaguing Americans nationwide – which has already led to multiple reports of hospitalized children.
‘Folks, I’m excited to tell you that the first flight from Operation Fly Formula is loaded up with more than 70,000 pounds of infant formula and about to land in Indiana,’ the president wrote on Twitter just before the plane touched down.
‘Our team is working around the clock to get safe formula to everyone who needs it.’