Biden Administration Scrambles to Solve Baby Formula Shortage It Created

The Biden Administration announced a series of moves to alleviate the baby formula shortage its executive branch agencies helped create.


The Biden Administration announced a series of moves to alleviate the baby formula shortage its executive branch agencies helped create.

  • President Joe Biden announced he would invoke the Defense Production Act to speed production of infant formula, although some Democrats were doubtful this measure could pass legal muster.
  • Lawmakers tore into FDA Commissioner Robert Califf about the administration’s faltering response to the crisis.
  • FDA Commissioner Robert Califf dodged congressional questions about the agency’s months-long delay to respond to a whistleblower complaint regarding the Abbott infant formula plant. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) called the FDA’s stonewalling “unacceptable.”
  • The FDA chief did say he expected the shuttered Abbott plant to reopen within a week.
  • Califf tapped Janet Woodcock to take the lead in addressing the crisis, but his decision to tap a bureaucrat with zero food policy experience – and who has previously been criticized for mishandling the opioid crisis – sparked outrage among industry leaders, consumer groups and other stakeholders.
  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), a top Pelosi ally, scorned the selection of Woodcock, who was in charge when the agency received the whistleblower complaint in October and did nothing. DeLauro said, “That is the fox in the hen house!”
  • Two children have been hospitalized due to nutrition deficiencies caused by the shortage so far.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The Washington Post argued the US should follow the “European model” for baby formula. European standards are regularly updated, while US standards haven’t been meaningfully updated since 1980.
  • The New York Times wrote Biden’s plan to address the shortage “left several big questions unanswered”  and “struggled” to answer basic questions about his invocation of the Defense Production Act.
  • CNN covered another Biden administration plan to address the crisis: emergency imports of European formula. The first shipment of Swiss baby formula arrived in the US yesterday. This begs the question: why wasn’t the US doing this all along?



  • The Wall Street Journal argued the “baby formula shortage was made in Washington” and “the main barriers to increasing [formula] supply are regulatory;” protectionist trade barriers that prevent Americans from importing formula from Europe and Latin America.
  • Fox News wrote about two bills that passed Congress to address the baby formula shortage. One bill passed on a wide bipartisan basis to allow Women, Infant and Children (WIC) beneficiaries to purchase more baby formula, while a bill to provide more funding to the FDA passed largely along partisan lines.
  • National Review argued Republicans “were right to vote against more FDA funding,” calling it a mistake to “reward” an agency that contributed to the current crisis.

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© Dominic Moore, 2022