WASHINGTON (KFOR) – All five Oklahoma U.S. House Representatives voted against a supplemental appropriations bill to provide $28 million in emergency funding to give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the resources it needs to address the urgent infant formula shortage.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said the money would increase Food and Drug Administration staffing to boost inspections of domestic and international suppliers, prevent fraudulent products from getting onto store shelves and acquire better data on the marketplace.
“The shortage we are seeing today is in large part caused by those who chose not to prioritize the health and safety of our children. Our babies are vulnerable, and parents are desperate,” Chair DeLauro said. “This critical funding will work in tandem with President Biden’s launch of Operation Fly Formula and invocation of the Defense Production Act to help quickly and safely address the infant formula shortage in this country and help prevent this from happening again. Now that we are ramping up production and preparing to purchase formula from abroad, we must ensure that it is safe. The FDA needs the resources to do that, and Congress has an obligation to meet those needs. This bill helps ensure that a lack of funding is not a barrier to getting safe formula to parents and babies.”
On a bipartisan 231 to 192 vote, the House passed the bill. It now heads to the Senate for approval.
Stephanie Bice, Tom Cole, Kevin Hern, Frank Lucas and Markwayne Mullin were among the 192 Republican House members to vote nay on the ‘Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act’.
KFOR has reached out to their offices to ask about their dissent.
Cole provided the following statement:
“While mothers and families struggle to find formula on the shelves to feed their children, Democrats decided to push through a bill that does not address the actual cause of the shortage. Unfortunately, the bill only creates the appearance of responding but doesn’t actually do anything to solve the supply crisis,” said Cole. “Furthermore, I am frustrated by reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was aware of this crisis beginning last year. That means there was ample opportunity to address the problem before it became a life and death situation. Although real lives are at stake, all H.R. 7790 does is hand a $28 million check to the Food and Drug Administration with no requirements or pathway to fix the baby formula shortage.
Although I could not support H.R. 7790, I was proud to vote for the Access to Baby Formula Act. An actual bipartisan solution, H.R. 7791 would ensure American families do not experience similar shortages in the future by requiring manufacturers to develop plans to prevent shortages in the event production is disrupted and providing temporary, narrow flexibilities to states’ Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) programs to allow continued access to formula during supply disruptions.”REP. TOM COLE
A representative from Hern’s office sent KFOR the following response after we asked why Hern voted against the emergency funding bill:
“I think a better focus would be on the bill that passed both the House & Senate today in a huge bipartisan way and is headed to the president’s desk.
Rep. Hern voted in favor of HR 7791, the Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022, which:
• Removes barriers for greater access to formula by allowing emergency waivers in the case of supply chain disruption.
• Requires manufacturers to submit a plan on how to protect women, infants, and children in the event of a supply chain disruption
• Requires coordination between US Dept. of Ag & the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure awareness of supply chain weaknesses.
That’s the bill headed to President Biden’s desk & will actually be put into effect. The other bill did not pass the senate and will never make it to the White House.”MIRANDA DABNEY, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR REP. KEVIN HERN
This story will be updated with the other Congressional representatives’ responses, once they’re received.
The plant has been shut down since February, after four infants who consumed formula made there were hospitalized with a rare bacterial infection. Two of those infants died.
The FDA earlier this week announced a preliminary consent agreement with Abbott to restart production, pending safety upgrades and certifications.
Republicans have turned the shortages into a political blame game for the Biden administration, though members of both parties have expressed frustration at what they said was a lack of accountability from the FDA.