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Joined by more than a dozen of her colleagues outside the Capitol on Thursday, Elise Stefanik, who serves as House GOP conference chairwoman and has a nine-month-old son, took aim at President Biden and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over their unwillingness to ensure that mothers across the country have the formula their young children need.
“I’ve led on this issue since February and we, as House Republicans, continue to demand answers from the FDA,” Stefanik said. “Unsurprisingly, when I reached out in February from my office to the FDA we received no substantive response. Joe Biden simply has no plan. In fact, when Joe Biden’s White House was asked about the shortage, they laughed. Shameful. Make no mistake, there is nothing laughable or funny about this crisis.”
“Today, House Republicans are here to push for action from the FDA and the Biden administration who should have had a plan for this shortage months ago,” she added. “Instead, bare shelves Biden has continued to pass the buck. … This is not a Third World country. This should never happen in the United States of America. We’re unified in demanding action to address this crisis.”
Echoing Stefanik’s remarks, Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., said, “This is sadly Joe Biden’s America.”
“Working families are already struggling to put food on the table due to the skyrocketing costs of every day items, and now they are facing a crisis that is threatening the very lives of their newborn children,” Wagner said. “This baby formula shortage is hitting mothers all over the country, but especially in my home state of Missouri.”
Wagner said her constituents are feeling the heat from the lack of formula in Missouri and noted that the state is “one of six states in America that has its baby formula out of stock.”
“Businesses and retailers are rationing supplies … limiting the amount of formula a customer can buy,” she said. “As the proud grandmother of two and another sweet baby on the way, it is terrifying to think of the desperation parents in my district are feeling when they cannot provide the basic necessities they need for their children.”
Also in attendance for the press conference was Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., who said she is hearing from mothers, support groups, and nurses in Washington state that “this is the biggest crisis they have faced.”
“Families are turning to the internet because they are so desperate,” she said. “It is extremely dangerous when you think about moms going to the grocery store and having an empty shelf. In some cases they’re driving for hours in order to get the baby formula that they need, and they certainly don’t need to be facing empty shelves.”
“We shouldn’t be rationing formulas to keep their babies fed,” she added. “Some families rely on specific formula. I talked with one mom who has a baby with allergies and it’s extremely difficult. She feels like she’s playing Russian roulette as she goes to the store. President Biden and the FDA must do more. This is a matter of life or death.”
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., the father of three young children, recognized the fact that “parents are struggling in America” as they seek formula for their children.
“The Biden administration has made every aspect of family life more difficult,” he said. “You go to the grocery store you see the rising price on the shelves of every available thing, and yet, you also go the grocery store and you see the lack of availability of key things you need for family life. Now we see the lack of access to baby formula and we ask why. This is not just a supply chain crisis. This is a crisis for families to be able to feed their children.
“When it comes to baby formula, people can see this for themselves what this administration has brought in terms of regulatory policy and then the lack of competence in responding to firm desires in society, firm needs in society, and that’s why we’re here to raise this question,” he added. “This is not meant to be a partisan exercise, but we’ve come together because we don’t see Democrats raising the same issue and willing to work with us to get some answer from this administration. We’re demanding answers.”
Parents across the nation have been panicked and desperate as supply disruptions and a massive safety recall by manufacturer Abbott have created widespread shortages. For the first week of May, the nationwide out-of-stock percentage for baby formula rose to 43%, according to Datasembly, which tracks product data for retailers. That’s up from 30% at the start of April.
Both the White House and the FDA said they are working to address the shortages.
“Ensuring that infant formula is safe and available for families across the country is a top priority to the White House and this administration,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House principal deputy press secretary, said Wednesday.
She said April sales of formula were up about 10 percent from March and consumers should be able to find general powdered infant formula in stores as the FDA is working with the industry to maximize production capabilities and supply lines here and abroad.
“This is an urgent issue that the FDA, as you all know, and the White House is working 24/7 to address,” Jean-Pierre told reporters.
The FDA issued an update on Tuesday on its plan to address the baby formula shortages. In a statement to Fox News Digital, the agency said it is “using all available tools” to ensure access to safe products. The agency said it is closely working with Abbott to resume the safe resumption of production at the Sturgis facility.
“Our first and foremost priority is ensuring that any recalled product remains off the market and we are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and manufacturers to ensure that parents have access to alternative, safe infant formula,” the FDA said in a statement to Fox News Digital on Tuesday. “We will and must continue focusing on taking all steps possible to protect the health of those who rely on safe powdered infant formula.”
President Biden, according to a White House official, is slated to virtually speak with retailers and infant formula manufacturers Thursday evening.
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz contributed to this article.