House Republicans held a press conference Thursday, demanding answers from the Biden administration on what it is doing to address the ongoing nationwide baby formula shortage, accusing the White House of not taking the crisis seriously.
"We are asking the questions, we've been raising the alarm to President Biden for months," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. We've been seeing empty shelves, and we've been seeing the rising cost on families. McMorris Rodgers said that they had concerns about the Abbott recall and how it is impacting shortages. On behalf of every parent and caregiver who is unsure whether or not they will be able to feed their children, we need answers and accountability. The company issued recalls of certain products in February after complaints that four infants became sick from bacterial infections after consuming formula made at the plant. Two of the babies died.
Abbott says that after reviewing both internal and FDA test data, there is no evidence linking the babies' illnesses to their formulas.
Abbott is in limbo while he works to make upgrades to the plant in order to meet the FDA's recommendations. The FDA says that the Michigan plant remains voluntarily closed by Abbott, and the company says it can have products from the facility back on store shelves after a few months after the FDA signs off on them doing so.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, D-N. J., announced Wednesday that his panel would hold a hearing on the formula shortage, saying in a statement that the national shortages are increasingly alarming and need Congress' immediate attention. The hearing is scheduled for May 25, and Republicans say action is needed sooner than that.
The House Democrats plan is to have a hearing two weeks from now, according to the Republican House Conference Chair Elise Stefanik during the press conference Thursday. I can tell you that a new mom, families and moms and dads and babies can't wait two weeks. The administration should be looking at everything, and anything, taking aim at the White House, the congresswoman said. We haven't heard anything. She said that the President of the United States simply doesn't care, whose only statement from his administration has been laughter in the face of mothers and fathers.
Incoming White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Wednesday that the administration is working 24 7 to address the formula shortage but could not name a point person in charge of the response.
President Biden is set to meet with formula manufacturers on Thursday, after which the White House will announce further actions it will take to address this issue, according to an administration official.