House Democrats propose providing $28 million in emergency funding for the Food and Drug Administration to address the shortage of infant formula in the US and provide tighter oversight of the industry.
The legislation, introduced Tuesday, is on the fast track to get a vote in the House Thursday, a person familiar said. Democrats are also planning to vote on another bill that would grant emergency authority to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to relax some regulations on purchases using program benefits.
The nationwide shortage, triggered in part by the shutdown of an Abbott Laboratories plant in February, has prompted a scramble by the Biden administration and Democratic lawmakers to increase supplies as Republicans have seized on the issue.
The funding bill is aimed at reducing fraudulent products, securing better data on the formula marketplace, and boosting inspections to prevent a repeat of the Abbott plant closure after it was linked to infection. Federal health officials and the company have reached an agreement that will allow the facility to be reopened.
“Parents and caretakers across the country cannot wait — they need our support now. This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner,” House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut politician, said in a statement.
Separately DeLauro criticized the FDA for opening the US market to more types of formula imports.
“I am disappointed that these actions do not do enough to ensure the formula FDA imports is safe for consumers. Instead of purchasing formula from FDA-regulated facilities, the administration is opening the door to any company that self-identifies its formula as ‘safe’. That is unacceptable,” she said.