House advances plan for WIC flexibility on baby formula

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WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Lawmakers are scurrying to help parents as the nationwide baby formula shortage drags on, with the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday advancing a plan to allow low-income families more flexibility in what products they can buy using WIC benefits.

“We are laser-focused,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., promised during a press conference.

The bill also gives the Food and Drug Administration $28 million in emergency funding to fix the supply problem and prevent another one from happening.

“At the crux of this is providing infrastructure, if you will, in order to do what needs to get done,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said.

The Biden administration is also temporarily allowing imports of formula. The FDA continues to work with the Abbott Nutrition plant in southwestern Michigan at the center of the shortage. The massive plant was shut down in February due to concerns about bacterial contamination.

“We are pulling out the stops to make sure we do everything we can,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said. “We’re going to keep working on this and focusing on this until every family, every child, can get the formula that they need.”

Republicans say the FDA’s involvement has done more harm than good.

“This is a catastrophe,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said. “We need to stop these asinine regulatory barriers.”

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he wants to hold hearings to get to the bottom of the shortage.

“I can’t figure out what in the world is going on at the FDA or Abbott, for that matter,” he said. “I’ve got a lot questions.”

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