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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Durbin on Baby Formula Shortage  CSPAN  May 25, 2022 6:50am-7:01am EDT

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the presiding officer: the senate is not in a quorum call. mr. durbin: thank you, mr. president. the hardest job in america during the pandemic certainly fell on the shoulders of our health care heroes. we owe a great debt of gratitude to the sacrifice and integrity they showed during this challenge. is but i want to add another category, and that would be the category of parents, particularly of newborn infants during the pandemic. they've dealt with school closures and covid lockdowns,
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rising prices at the checkout counter, and for parents with kids under the age of 5 the wait for covid vaccine has been excruciating. now parents throughout the country are facing another burden, of all things, the availability and cost of infant formula. since the beginning of this year, the supply of infant formula in america has been reduced by nearly half, half, and the obvious question is why. in february, the food and drug administration discovered that abbott's michigan factory, which produces similac, a well-known infant formula to many parents, may have been the source of a bacteria outbreak. that outbreak sent four infants to the hospital. tragically, it claimed the lives of two. as a result, the factory in michigan was shut down. now that shutdown and larger
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supply chain issues has caused a shortage and caused panic among many families. at this very moment, parents are frantically scouring the internet for formula, driving for hours from store to store, and paying obscene prices to shady sellers exploiting this desperate situation. some of the parents in illinois have written to me. one of them is jennifer sandusky from deer park in illinois. eight months ago she gave birth to a son. in her words, it was a moment of sheer joy, love, and excitement. soon after she gave birth, jennifer joined millions of other women in supplementing her son's diet with formula. jennifer wrote to me that, quote, in the last several months, we've been fighting an uphill battle to find formula. what would have once cost $13 for a 12-ounce can of powdered
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formula now sells for $40, if you can combined it on the shelves. jennifer -- if you can find it on the shelves. jennifer described her struggle to find the formula as a nightmare. she's not alone. another mother, named jennifer, who lives in lake zurich, illinois, said the formula shortage is becoming dire, in her words. sadly, these moms are right. the shortage is dire. that's why i'm grateful that the president has sprung into action to try to help these parents and families. two days ago, the administration completed its first shipment of more than 75,000 pounds of imported formula as part of operation fly formula, enough for more than half a million bottles. the second shipment is expected in a few days. and as these shipments reach america's shores, president biden has also invoked the defense production act, authority he has under the law to ramp up domestic production.
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this could help to eliminate supply-chain bottlenecks and compel manufacturers to prioritize the production of infant formula. it's hard to think of anything that would be a higher priority. both of these steps are crucial, but in the meantime if you're a parent struggling to find formula, the department of health and human services has a website you should visit. that's hhs. gov/formula. it identifies companies and health care providers, food banks and other resources that have supplies available. let me say it again, hhs. gov/formula. additionally last week president biden signed the act into law that will allow parents to buy
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infant formula through w.i.c. finally the food and drug administration is looking to maximize production as well. in particular, the production of specialized formulas for infants with specific health needs. the f.d.a. has also entered into an agreement with abbott to get its michigan factory back in business. that's the largest infant formula factory in the country. we need to get it reopened safely, quickly, as long as the company meets critical safety standards, we want them in production. let's be clear, this disastrous situation could have been averted if the f.d.a. was not chronically understaffed and underfunded. at the time abbott's factory was shut down, try to guess how many federal employees had the
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responsibility of the oversight of this life-and-death industry. the answer, nine. nine people within f.d.a. were responsible for the oversight of infant formula, nine workers mont -- monitoring a $3.9 million industry. these workers are spread way too thin. and here's why it's a problem. when a safety issue arises, it can take months for the f.d.a. to launch an investigation. that's exactly what happened at abbott's plant in michigan. the f.d.a. received the complaint about that company's production last october, but they didn't physically inspect the plant until january of this year. the f.d.a. does essential work with limited resources, but it cannot serve the needs of the american consumers and families on a thin budget. if we want to truly protect the safety and well-being of families and kids, we need to
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step up in congress. the house of representatives did it last week. house lawmakers passed congresswoman's laura derosa's legislation additional funding to help the f.d.a. with the formula shortage and prevent the next one. this legislation is a no-brainer from my point of view and that's why it's puzzling that 190 republican congressmen and women voted against it. they voted against the f.d.a. to get infant formula back into the homes of american families to prevent any healthy and safety issues in the future and 190 republicans said, no, i don't want to spend that money. that's right, the party that often claims to be so pro-family voted against legislation to help parents feed their
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families, feed their babies and provide parents with the peace of mind that their formula is safe. i'm sure my republican colleagues will keep coming to the floor this week to express outrage over the infant formula shortage. when you listen to what they say, also watch how they vote. if they're serious about protecting kids and families, it is time to vote that way. congresswoman derose's legislation helps with that path. while we're at it let's look at the challenges facing working families before the formula shortage and even before the pandemic. congress has waited far too long to provide the support working families need to thrive. so let's extend the enhanced child tax kret. let's provide paid parental leave. let's offer postpartum health
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coverage to all new moms and let's parents afford the cost of high-quality education. i think those programs are critical and they are pro family. we have the power to make america the best place in the world to raise a family. we're not quite there. instead of the freedom to choose how and when to raise a child, i have a different proposal for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. let's invest in the health and potential of every family in america. mr. president, . president, >> today a house hearing on the shortage of baby formula in the us with testimony from the head of the fda and others live at 11:00 a.m. on c-span, c-span now, free mobile video apps or any time online, >> we take you live to london where british prime minister
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boris johnson will field questions from members of the house of commons, the prime minister is expected to make a statement in response to senior civil servants, full report on covid 19 lockdown parties. you are watching live coverage on c-span2. >> annual funding matching the average annual funding the world would have received after adjusting for inflation and if it doesn't take that from me or doesn't believe me, the government center, that indicates we are going in the right direction on the shared prosperity fund and wouldn't it be good if the welsh government could support these ambitious opportunities. >> the whole house will want to join me in expressing our outragend


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