- baby formula
- baby formula shortage
- Bill Posey
- Brian Mast
- Byron Donalds
- Carlos Gimenez
- Greg Steube
- Gus Bilirakis
- Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act
- Jamarah Amani
- Joe Biden
- Kat Cammack
- Ken Russell
- Maria Elvira Salazar
- Mario Diaz-Balart
- Matt Gaetz
- Michael Waltz and Daniel Webster
- Scott franklin
- Travis Reuther
- Vern Buchanan
Rep. María Elvira Salazar and other Republicans in Congress who last month voted against an emergency spending bill to address a national shortage of baby formula have much to answer for, Democratic Miami Commissioner Ken Russell said.
Russell, who is running to unseat Salazar in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, called out the freshman Congresswoman and her GOP peers Thursday for “playing the partisan game” with the well-being of our society’s most vulnerable members.
“We need solutions right now, so babies get fed,” he said during a Zoom press conference. “This is not the time to play party games.”
Salazar joined 191 fellow House Republicans — including 14 others who represent Florida — in voting against the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act on May 19, which would allot $28 million in emergency funds to the Food and Drug Administration.
The money approved through the bill, which still awaits a vote in the Senate, is intended to pay for enhanced inspection of formula supplies and improve data collection on the formula marketplace.
Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kat Cammack, Marío Díaz-Balart, Byron Donalds, Scott Franklin, Matt Gaetz, Carlos Giménez, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz and Daniel Webster were also among those who voted “no.”
They and Salazar “are miscalculating what their voters are looking for,” Russell said.
“They’re looking for solutions, and baby formula is a key issue right now,” he said. “Much like in times of war or natural disaster, this is when we put party lines aside and solve our issues for the American people.”
Another bill called the Access to Baby Formula Act, which allows more formulas to be bought using benefits under a federal program for low-income women, infants and children, cleared the House with Salazar’s support May 18. It received nine “no” votes, all from Republicans, including Gaetz, who contended on Twitter that the bill would allow the program “to utilize a far greater portion of the baby formula market, crowding out many hardworking American families.”
The next day, the Senate approved the bill and President Joe Biden signed it into law.
But two weeks later, the formula shortage has worsened. Biden met Wednesday with executives of five baby food companies and announced that the U.S. will airlift shipments of formula from Europe.
The shortage has been blamed on supply chain issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and February shutdown of an Abbott Laboratories formula manufacturing plant in Michigan over contamination concerns.
“It’s really difficult when there’s not a guarantee of access to formula and … a consistent type of formula that is the best for your baby’s digestive system,” said Jamarah Amani, a community midwife raising four children in North Miami. “This really shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It should be about families and communities, centering the access to optimum health and putting people before profit.”
Biden last month invoked the Defense Production Act to boost manufacturing and said he’d use military resources to expedite imports of formula from overseas.
The President said he had no knowledge of the shortage until April. Executives from the five companies he spoke with — ByHearts, Bubs Australia, Reckitt, Perrigo Company and Gerber — said they knew a crisis was imminent when Abbott closed its plant.
Regardless of who dropped the proverbial ball and when, Salazar had an opportunity to help correct the problem and chose not to in order to make Biden and Democrats look bad, Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Travis Reuther said.
“That vote follows a pattern from Republicans at the national level, where they would rather vote along party lines than take action or do anything to deliver results for Florida’s families at a time like this,” he said.
“We’ve seen that — whether it’s reproductive freedom, gun safety, voting rights or even a bill to cap the cost of insulin payments every month. The results are the same. Republicans are more interested in using the struggles of working families for their own political game. They don’t have a plan. Democrats do, and they’re taking action.”