By Daniella Diaz, CNN
A nationwide shortage of baby formula has spurred a response from several House committees in an effort to figure out what’s caused the issue and how the government can ease the problems causing the shortages.
Two House committees announced this week they are looking into the issue, with a spokesperson telling CNN that the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Friday morning sent letters to four separate companies that produce baby formula requesting information about the supply chain issues.
Additionally, a House Energy and Commerce Committee spokesperson announced a hearing on baby formula for May 25 and told CNN they plan to call representatives from the Food and Drug Administration and Abbott, a major baby formula producer, to testify.
American stores have had a hard time keeping baby formula in stock for months due to a recall, inflation and supply chain problems. Manufacturers have said they are producing at full capacity, but it’s not enough to keep up with demand. While this has become a bipartisan issue on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are pointing fingers at different parties for the issue, with Democrats blaming the companies and Republicans blaming the Biden administration and FDA.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress needs to address the baby formula shortage in America “right now” in a news conference Thursday.
“Right now, the baby’s crying, the baby’s hungry, we need to address it right now,” Pelosi told reporters. “And I think we have good focus on it. And we’ll see what the President has to say. And we have our proposals as well.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted the administration on the Senate floor Thursday for its handling of the formula shortage, calling it an “outrageous, unacceptable situation” that has been “unfolding in slow motion over several months.”
He added: “Much of it stems from a recall that resulted in a plant being shut down, but it seems that while President Biden’s administration and the FDA knew all about this problem as it developed, they have been asleep at the switch in terms of getting production back online,” McConnell continued, adding, “The administration has got to be more proactive and forward-leaning.”
He was referencing the contamination of formula from Abbott Nutrition that may have sickened four babies. Two died after consuming powdered formula manufactured by the company’s facility in Sturgis, Michigan, earlier this year.
The FDA recalled three brands of powdered baby formulas made by the company due to potential bacterial infections, including salmonella. The agency advised parents not to buy or use certain batches of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered infant formulas, all Abbott brands.
Abbott said on Wednesday that it could restart production at the Michigan facility, pending FDA approval, within two weeks. Formula from the shuttered plant could be on shelves six to eight weeks after that.
On Thursday, the FDA told CNN that the agency is “doing everything in its power” to make sure there is enough formula available for people who need it, adding that they recognize “that many consumers have been unable to access infant formula and critical medical foods they are accustomed to using and are frustrated by their inability to do so.”
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