WASHINGTON — Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that the House would take motion next week to handle the infant formula shortage that has left parents desperately looking for food for his or her children, as President Biden pledged motion that might lead to more formula on store shelves inside “weeks or less.”
In a letter to lawmakers, Ms. Pelosi said she would expedite a bill to grant emergency authority to the federal food assistance program for ladies and kids to calm down restrictions on the kinds of formula that may be purchased. About half the infant formula sold nationwide is purchased through advantages provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC. Loosening the principles could help make sure that recipients are in a position to buy whatever type is obtainable.
“The babies are crying, and the babies are hungry,” Ms. Pelosi wrote. “So we must take urgent motion to guard their health and well-being.”
She said her fellow House Democrats were also working on an emergency spending bill to “immediately address the infant formula shortage.” It was not yet clear how large the measure could be or where the funding would go, but aides said one proposal being considered was purchasing formula from other countries which have excess supply.
“We have now to maneuver with caution in addition to speed,” Mr. Biden said on the White House on Friday, when asked whether the administration had responded quickly enough to a shortage that began in February. He called it essentially the most urgent issue he was facing.
By way of increasing imports, the president said, “we now have to be certain what we’re getting is in truth first-rate product.”
Mr. Biden said the Food and Drug Administration was taking steps that might yield ends in “weeks or less, getting significantly more formula on shelves.”
His quick timetable and Ms. Pelosi’s plans reflected a growing urgency to handle the shortage, which has turn out to be a national crisis and a political challenge as Republicans work to weaponize the problem before the midterm elections.
The White House on Thursday announced a series of modest moves to assist increase the availability of formula, including plans to extend imports and speed manufacturing.
Republicans have spent the past few days hammering Mr. Biden for the shortage, pointing to it as the most recent example of Democrats being slow to handle essentially the most basic needs of American families, a central piece of their campaign message.
Republicans have latched onto a xenophobic talking point, amplified by Fox News and other conservative outlets, that Mr. Biden has prioritized undocumented immigrants over Americans by providing pallets of baby formula to detention centers on the southwestern border.
“American moms and their babies shouldn’t suffer due to #BidenBorderCrisis,” Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of Latest York, posted on Twitter on Friday.
A White House official noted that it has been compulsory under the law since 1997 for border personnel to offer food, including baby formula, for detainees of their custody.
Navigating the Baby Formula Shortage within the U.S.
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A growing problem. A nationwide shortage of baby formula — triggered partially by supply-chain issues and worsened by a recall by the infant food manufacturer Abbott Nutrition — has left parents confused and anxious. Listed here are some ways to administer this uncertainty:
Finding formula. In case your baby’s formula was not affected by the recall, but continues to be not available, you may try calling local stores to ask after they expect to get it back in stock. Chances are you’ll also have the opportunity to purchase it online. In case your baby is on special formula, reach out to your doctor’s office: They might need samples in stock.
Picking a recent formula. For those who typically use a name-brand formula, search for its generic version. Alternatively, seek a recent formula that matches the ingredients listed in your usual one. In case your baby is on a special formula for health reasons, check along with your pediatrician before switching.
Transitioning to a recent product. Ideally, it would be best to switch your child steadily. Start by mixing three quarters of your usual formula with one quarter of the brand new one and steadily phase out the old product. For those who can’t transition steadily since you’ve run out of your usual formula, that’s OK, although you may notice more gassiness or fussiness through the transition.
What to not do. For those who can’t find your baby’s usual formula, don’t make your personal — homemade formulas are sometimes nutritionally inadequate and prone to contamination. Don’t attempt to “stretch” your formula by adding extra water, and don’t buy it from unvetted online marketplaces like Craigslist. For a baby lower than 1 yr old, don’t use toddler formula.
Democrats made #EliseStarvefanik a trending topic on Twitter on Friday, heaping criticism on Ms. Stefanik and other Republicans who’ve questioned the practice and noting that the choice could be for the federal government to starve children in its care.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that Mr. Biden was considering invoking the Defense Production Act to extend production.
Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of Latest York, and Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois, who chair the House committee on oversight and the subcommittee on consumer policy, sent letters on Friday to the highest 4 formula manufacturers requesting details about what they were doing to handle the shortage.
They said they were also looking for documents from Abbott Nutrition referring to the conditions of its shuttered formula manufacturing plant in Sturgis, Mich., that led to recalls of several of its products after 4 infants were sickened; two of them died.
On Friday, Abbott said it will extend rebates for alternative products through the top of August, in response to a letter from Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, requesting that they achieve this.
Emily Cochrane and Zolan Kanno-Youngs contributed reporting.