AFP – The White House vowed Thursday to take action to boost supplies of baby formula as President Joe Biden was slammed by Republicans for crippling shortages nationwide.
Last week the average out-of-stock rate for baby formula was 43 percent, according to Datasembly, which collected information from more than 11,000 retailers.
The administration, already under fire over the highest inflation rate in decades, did not specify what action it might take but said Biden would speak to manufacturers and retailers later Thursday.
The Republican opposition, which has set its sights on wresting back control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, has seized on the issue to berate Biden and the Democrats.
Elise Stefanik, part of the House Republican leadership and a new mother herself, told a news conference she had contacted the US Food and Drug Administration in February but received “no substantive response.”
“Joe Biden simply has no plan. In fact, when Joe Biden’s White House was asked about the shortage, they laughed. Shameful,” she told reporters.
In fact, when confronted with the issue, Press Secretary Jen Psaki suggested on Thursday that parents who couldn’t find baby formula should call a doctor:
Psaki suggests that parents who can't find baby formula should call a doctor. pic.twitter.com/7k9XF4OOOf— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) May 12, 2022
Her Republican House colleague Anne Wagner of Missouri said her state was one of six where more than half of the normal supply of baby milk was out of stock.
“I’ve heard stories of moms firsthand — my own daughter-in-law — bartering for baby formula on Facebook,” she said.
“Pregnant women are asking if they should start stockpiling. They’re anxious during a time of high stress and anxiety.”
Congressman Randy Feenstra said families in his state of Iowa were traveling up to 100 miles to source the formula.
The shortages have been worsening since February 17 when, after the death of two infants, manufacturer Abbott announced a “voluntary recall” for formula made at its factory in Michigan — including Similac, a brand used by millions of American families.
A subsequent investigation cleared the formula, but production has yet to resume, exacerbating already ongoing scarcity caused by supply chain problems and labor shortages.
“I think we need to take a moment and think about the fact that, in Joe Biden’s America, it seems like it’s easier to get a crack pipe and a government-funded smoking kit than it is to find baby formula,” said Congressman Mike Waltz of Florida, a father of a four-month-old.