WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Biden administration is using special government powers to deal with the baby formula shortage. On Sunday evening, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Secretary Xavier Becerra invoked the Defense Production Act to ensure manufacturers have what they need to produce more baby formula after President Joe Biden gave the OK.
Becerra is now using it to ensure Abbott Nutrition — the company that shut down one of its plants — has enough raw materials to get back up and running.
“And the expectation is that in the next couple of weeks, we’ll begin to see product from that facility,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said.
HHS said it will also use the Defense Production Act to ensure Reckitt, a consumer goods company involved in manufacturing formula, has enough access to single-use products such as filters.
The Biden administration is also taking other steps to try to get baby formula to families who need it, including using an Air Force C-17 jet to fly to Indianapolis on Sunday with 40 tons of baby formula on board.
“This shipment provides enough formula to take care of 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers,” Vilsack said.
The shipment came from Europe and is formulated for babies with special dietary needs. Although instead of hitting store shelves, it will head to hospitals and home health care facilities across the country, with more shipments heading to the U.S.
“We’re going to get this here in a matter of days,” Vilsack said.
However, there are more long-term problems the Biden administration and lawmakers say need to be addressed.
“So that no individual company has this much control over supply chains,” Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council, said.
The Biden administration said Americans can expect store shelves to return to normal in a few weeks once the Abbott plant is fully up and running again.