One of the approved bills, HR 7790, would release $28 million in emergency funding to the FDA to help the agency stem the current shortage and prevent future crises, too. The funds would specifically boost the number of FDA inspection staff, give resources to FDA workers tasked with baby formula problems, help the agency block fake baby formula from entering the US marketplace, and improve data collection on the baby formula market overall, a release from the House Appropriations Committee stated.
"This bill is the first step to help restock shelves and end this shortage," House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, the Democrat who introduced the bill, said in a statement.
"Parents and caretakers across the country cannot wait –– they need our support now," DeLauro added. "This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner. Additionally, with these funds, the FDA will be able to prevent this issue from occurring again," she said.
Lawmakers also passed the Access to Baby Formula Act which seeks to ensure parents and guardians can continue to use WIC benefits to purchase baby formula during a nationwide shortage or any other emergency crisis. The bill would do this by giving the Agricultural Department the authority to waive certain requirements related to WIC.
These pieces of legislation are headed to the Senate for a voting process known as a unanimous consent request. That process could be blocked by the objection of a single senator, according to Chamber rules.
"We hope no one will block it," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. "It's such an immediate need." Parents and caretakers across the country have been struggling to find baby formula for months after supply chain issues sparked by bacterial contamination at the US' largest baby formula manufacturing facility and its subsequent shutdown.
The facility, Abbott Nutrition, reached a deal with the FDA this week, that will reopen the Michigan plant and get production back up. Officials estimate another two months before parents could see restocked shelves.