Renew request for briefing and all communications from White House Chief of Staff
WASHINGTON — Today, House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) and Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Ranking Member Michael Cloud (R-Texas) reiterated serious concerns over the Biden Administration’s failure to address the United States’ worsening infant formula crisis. In another letter to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, the Republican lawmakers highlighted reports indicating the Biden Administration, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had ample notice of the impending formula shortage and blasted officials for taking no action to address the unfolding crisis. To understand what the Biden Administration knew and what actions are now being taken to alleviate the burden on parents, the lawmakers renew their request for an immediate briefing and all communications between White House staff and employees at the FDA and HHS.
“Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform are continuing oversight of the United States’ worsening infant formula crisis,” wrote the lawmakers. “This crisis has continued to grow, leaving parents terrified, unable to find formula, and struggling to feed their children. In January 2022, the out-of-stock rate for infant formula was 23 percent. Now, 74 percent of formulas are out of stock nationally. Additionally, ten states and 14 metropolitan areas now have out-of-stock rates greater than 90 percent. Unfortunately, media reports indicate the Biden Administration and FDA had ample notice of the impending shortage and took no action.”
In a letter on May 20, 2022, the Republican lawmakers initially raised concerns to Mr. Klain about the Biden Administration’s failure to prevent the infant formula shortage and sought to understand how the Biden Administration let this formula crisis happen in the first place. Mr. Klain failed to respond. The FDA is working with Abbott Nutrition to safely resume production. Although Abbott’s facility reopened earlier this month, severe storms have caused the plant to shut down again and the company remains unsure about a timeline to reopen.
“Abbott is one of two companies that produce approximately 80 percent of all infant formula in the U.S.,” continued the lawmakers. “The White House has repeatedly said they have been working around the clock since February to address the issue. Yet, despite the FDA and HHS being aware of the formula shortage last year, and company executives warning that the Abbott plant’s closure would immediately have significant repercussions, President Biden conceded he did not become aware of the shortage until April 2022. Furthermore, the White House did not take steps to address this crisis until May 2022. These steps were too late for desperate parents. Please be prepared to discuss any steps the Administration is taking to respond to this emergency. We renew our request for all communications between or among White House staff, the FDA, and HHS, referring or relating to the formula shortage.”
Read the letter here.