WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Biden administration is using special government powers to deal with the baby formula shortage.
On Sunday evening, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that Secretary Xavier Becerra had invoked the Defense Production Act to ensure manufacturers had what they needed to produce more infant formula after the President Joe Biden had agreed.
Becerra is now using it to ensure that Abbott Nutrition – the company that shut down one of its factories – has enough raw materials to get back up and running.
“And it’s expected that within the next two weeks we’ll start to see product from this facility,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.
HHS said it will also use the Defense Production Act to ensure that Reckitt, a consumer goods company involved in formula manufacturing, has sufficient access to single-use products such as filters.
The Biden administration is also taking other steps to try to get formula to families in need, including using an Air Force C-17 plane to fly to Indianapolis on Sunday with 40 tons of formula to edge.
“This shipment provides enough formula to care for 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers,” Vilsack said.
The shipment came from Europe and is formulated for babies with special dietary needs. Although instead of hitting store shelves, it will be heading to hospitals and home care facilities across the country, with more shipping to the United States.
“We’re going to get this here in a few days,” Vilsack said.
However, there are longer-term issues that the Biden administration and lawmakers say need to be addressed.
“So that no single company has so much control over supply chains,” said Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council.
The Biden administration has said Americans can expect store shelves to return to normal within weeks once Abbott’s factory is fully operational again.
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