Nine Republicans voted against the bill to fix baby food shortages. Here’s why.

A bill in Congress to help poor families buy baby formula passed Parliament late Wednesday with near-unanimous support, but was defeated by nine members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who said the legislation would make the problem worse.

In a stunning show of bipartisan consensus, HR 7791, the Access to Baby Formula Act passed with 414 “yes” votes. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.), would allow the Department of Agriculture to waive certain requirements to allow qualified beneficiaries of the women, infants and children program to more easily purchase different brands of formula. The bill would also require formula manufacturers to put contingency plans in place to prevent future supply chain disruptions.

Hayes said her bill will improve access to formula for WIC participants during emergencies and supply shocks.

While nearly every Republican voted with Democrats to pass the bill, nine members of the GOP House of Representatives voted “no.” They were: Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Paul Gosar (R- Ariz.), Clay Higgins (R-La.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), and Chip Roy (R-Texas).

They warned that expanding WIC participants’ ability to purchase formula without increasing supply could unintentionally worsen the shortage.

“Authorizing the Secretary of the USDA to waive administrative requirements for the WIC program is ineffective and artificial,” Rep. Andy Biggs said in one Explanation.

“This legislation would exacerbate the lack of baby food for most Americans. It will allow WIC to capture a far larger chunk of the baby formula market, which is displacing many hard-working American families,” he said.

Representative Matt Gaetz called that “instead of creating new emergency agencies for the incompetent Biden regime, we should source more products for all American families and solve the problem.”

The current shortage is putting a strain on parents of infants who need formula to feed their children. Its causes are linked to inflation, ongoing supply chain issues from the COVID-19 pandemic and a product recall in February that shut down a major formula-making factory in Michigan.

No fewer than 26 states have reported out-of-stock rates of 40% to 50%, with the worst shortages in Texas, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota NBC News.

Amid widespread outcry over lack of access to formula, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that his government will use the Defense Production Act to order commercial cargo airlines to carry baby food products.

“Bypassing regular air freight routes will speed import and distribution of formulas and serve as immediate support as manufacturers continue to ramp up production,” the White House said.

Another bill introduced to Congress by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) would address the issue by spending $28 million to staff the Food and Drug Administration and support its inspection force. This bill passed 231-192, with much more GOP opposition. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) issued a memo urging the GOP conference to vote “no” on the bill, writing that Democrats are “throwing additional money at the FDA without having the plan actually fix the problem while failing to hold the FDA accountable.”

“The only way to bring more formula to American families is to correct the cronies’ policies that prevent more US companies from producing them, remove barriers to innovation, and allow imports from trusted nations; the legislation proposed by Democrats does none of that,” said Rep. Chip Roy, who voted against both bills.

“This deficiency is the direct result of unnecessary federal regulation and a bloated bureaucracy that failed to recognize the problem before it got out of control.” This body should solve problems and not make them worse.” Nine Republicans voted against the bill to fix baby food shortages. Here’s why.

Laura Coffey

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