Washington, D.C.—Today, the Senate unanimously passed the Access to Baby Formula Act, bipartisan legislation co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME). The bill—which now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law—would help alleviate the nationwide shortage of baby formula by requiring major formula manufacturers to develop action plans and provide FDA and USDA with flexibility that will help address disruptions.
“The ongoing shortage of infant formula has caused significant anxiety among parents, who are experiencing constant worry that they will not be able to find enough formula to keep their babies healthy and fed,” said Senator Collins. “The Administration’s delayed response and lack of communication to alert consumers and Congress is deeply disturbing. Parents should not have had to discover this problem by encountering increasingly empty shelves at the grocery store. I will continue to push for answers and solutions to this serious issue.”
“No family should have to live in fear of their child’s food supply running out, but as the nation faces a serious shortage of infant formula, this is the unacceptable, heartbreaking situation facing far too many Maine families,” said Senator King. “The Access to Baby Formula Act is an important step to address this crisis, giving families added flexibilities to access formula and taking steps to prevent a disaster like this in the future. While this bill will not end the crisis overnight, these efforts – along with the recent executive action from President Biden – will help Maine parents access the life-sustaining formula as soon as possible.”
The Access to Baby Formula Act would give the USDA authority to be more flexible during a crisis such as a natural disaster, public health emergency, or recall and shortage. This flexibility would ensure that the brand or type of formula families can buy is not restricted by Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) rules, allowing families to purchase whatever is available in the store. In addition, the legislation would require that formula manufacturers that provide formula for WIC babies have a plan in place to respond to a shortage so that families will be able to purchase the formula they need.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the Access to Baby Formula Act was introduced by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Boozman (R-AR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Hoeven (R-ND), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tina Smith (D-MN), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ).
The Access to Baby Formula Act is supported by more than 250 national, regional, and local child nutrition advocates.