On Friday, the White House was defensive about its response to the infant formula shortfall, emphasizing that swift action was taken.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told journalists when asked why actions were not undertaken until the matter was in the spotlight, “We have not waited.”
She said the administration had given to the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which helps the poor more freedom.
They also did something after the recall of Abbott Nutrition products in February.
What Else Could Have Been Done?
When questioned if they could have done better sooner, Psaki responded, “Well, hindsight has always been 20/20.”
Has Biden explored using the Defense Production Act to reopen the formula plant his FDA closed, or is he going to continue to just sit around
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 12, 2022
Psaki said the administration was responsible for the 50 percent increase in Gerber’s production and the 30 percent increase at Reckitt.
She said this wouldn’t have happened “if we hadn’t been working on this from the start.”
Psaki did not estimate how many weeks, or even months, the White House anticipated it would take for infant formula to be readily available at big-box retailers.
“As soon as feasible is our goal, but it will vary per shop,” said Psaki, who was holding her farewell news conference as White House press secretary.
When asked this week what parents should do if they can not get formula, the White House urged that they contact their physicians.
The Defense Production Act
The Biden presidency has recently faced political flak over the problem, despite the fact the formula shortfall has been ongoing for months, due to supply chain challenges and workforce shortages.
The White House developed a website to address people’s queries regarding scarcity. Psaki explained this is in response to a demand they’ve observed in the past 24 hours.
I’ve called for the Defense Production Act to be used since last month.@ChuckGrassley sat on his hands for weeks before finally writing a polite letter to the FDA.
Even in crisis, he's forgotten how to be anything but a cog in the DC machine.https://t.co/ADMmH08IwW
— Abby Finkenauer (@Abby4Iowa) May 13, 2022
She stated, “Prior to that era, we had not witnessed what we detected in the past few days.”
Psaki reaffirmed the White House has urged the Federal Trade Commission to examine any instances of baby formula overcharging.
President Biden also wrote a letter to Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Lina Khan on Thursday.
He requested the independent agency consider using all of its tools and officials to start monitoring the baby formula industry and resolve any unlawful behavior that may be attributed to scarcity and hoarding.
He also requested an investigation into whether rural or smaller retailers are being disadvantaged.
Psaki also said the government has been pressuring stores to limit how much baby formula customers can buy to stop people from stockpiling.
The Defense Production Act has been on the table. It gives the president a lot of power to boost the production of essential goods during a national emergency.
On Friday, Psaki reaffirmed the Defense Production Act is being studied, but she emphasized it is not the best solution for the current scenario.
The production of infant formula is so specialized and unique that the Defense Production Act cannot be used to order a firm that manufactures something else to create baby formula.