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Warner & Kaine Applaud Passage of Bill to Improve Baby Formula Access Among Vulnerable Families

The Access to Baby Formula Act now heads to the President’s desk for signature

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded unanimous Senate passage of the Access to Baby Formula Act, which will help improve access to baby formula for families who participate in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. The legislation passed the House of Representatives yesterday and now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

“No one should have to worry about where or how they’re going to get formula to feed their child, and we’re glad Congress is taking action to address these shortages,” said the Senators. “This bill is an important step to ensuring our most vulnerable families have access to the formula they need.”

The legislation was introduced by Congressman Bobby Scott and Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. Specifically, the Access to Baby Formula Act will:

  • Establish waiver authority to address emergencies, disasters, and supply chain disruptions by ensuring states that contract with one formula manufacturer for the WIC program can secure supplies from additional manufacturers;
  • Grant the U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority to waive certain requirements that can slow down the process to get formula back on the shelves, without sacrificing safety standards; and
  • Facilitate coordination and information-sharing between the Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Health and Human Services regarding any supply chain disruption, including supplemental food recalls.

According to USDA, Abbott Nutrition’s formula products serve 89% of WIC families.

Warner and Kaine sent a letter last week calling on infant formula manufacturers to increase production and make every effort possible to get formula on shelves.

Earlier this week, Warner spoke about the importance of addressing this shortage, calling for additional funding to address the issue as well as a thorough examination of the American and worldwide supply chain issues that have contributed to this shortage. Warner also praised Senate passage of the legislation on Twitter and pledged to continue pushing for initiatives that relieve this burden.

Kaine released a video statement after new steps to address the shortages were announced, including an FDA and Abbott agreement to reopen the shuttered plant and the FDA’s move to make it easier to import formula. Kaine called on President Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to help ramp up formula production—a call President Biden heeded shortly after. Kaine also sent a letter to President Biden urging him to appoint a White House coordinator to address current shortages, and implement a national strategy to increase the resiliency of the infant formula supply chain and protect against future contamination and shortages.