Republican Rep. Timothy Burchett of Tennessee slammed the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, saying it does more to expand bureaucracy than address the ongoing baby formula shortage.
The bill, alongside the Access to Baby Formula Act, passed the House on Wednesday with the stated goal of helping ensure families have access to critical nutrition for their infants as baby formula products disappear from shelves nationwide.
“I voted for the bipartisan Access to Baby Formula Act because it gives the USDA flexibility to address emergencies and supply chain disruptions,” Burchett said in a Thursday news release from his office.
The congressman further stated he had called on Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to “investigate any potential price-gouging related to this crisis.”
While he supported and voted for the Access to Baby Formula Act, which passed 414-9, Burchett said he could not do the same for the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act.
The Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act “provides the FDA with $28 million in new funding, $23 million of which will go toward administration expenses that will not address the immediate crisis and will only grow the bureaucracy at the FDA,” Burchett said in the news release.
Burchett clarified his remarks in a Thursday video shared on Twitter, highlighting that over three-quarters of the additional funding the bill sets aside for the FDA goes to “administrative costs and salaries.”
The $28 million baby formula bill pays $23 million in salaries and does NOTHING for the shortage. pic.twitter.com/jpQcxSIutf
— Tim Burchett (@timburchett) May 19, 2022
“What the Democrat leadership did was use a bill, title it something that’s dealing with people that are genuinely hurting, and just use it as an instance to increase pay at the FDA,” Burchett said. “That ought to disgust you — I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican — using a real tragedy.”
Do you support federal intervention in addressing the formula shortage?
Yes: 17% (49 Votes)
No: 83% (235 Votes)
The bill “did nothing to put more formula on the shelves,” the lawmaker continued, saying that the legislation “just did more to hire more bureaucrats and create more of a power structure here in Washington.
“They misname these bills on purpose, and honestly the left just eats it up and they throw it back at us, but in reality it’s just not true,” Burchett said.
Democrats say the bill will help solve the formula crisis.
“This bill takes important steps to restore supply in a safe and secure manner. Additionally, with these funds, FDA will be able to help to prevent this issue from occurring again,” Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut said in a Tuesday news release, adding that “this bill is the first step to help restock shelves and end this shortage.”
“This bill provides FDA with the resources to prevent fraudulent products from being placed on shelves and to help acquire better data on the infant formula marketplace,” DeLauro said. “This bill also funds the balance of necessary FDA activities, strengthens the workforce focused on formula issues, and increases FDA inspection staff.”
While Democrats in the House were able to pass the two bills, one of them with massive bipartisan support, the legislation’s likelihood of passing the Senate remains uncertain.
Should Senate Republicans vote along the lines of House Republicans, the Access to Baby Formula Act could pass with minimal opposition.
However, the same cannot be said of the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, which passed 231-192 in the House.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer suggested Wednesday that lawmakers could try to pass the bills by making a unanimous consent request, according to CNN.