Empty shelves and anxious families: the White House assured this Thursday that it is taking very seriously the shortage of baby milk in the United States, which is turning into a political crisis for President Joe Biden. The out-of-stock rate of infant formula reached 43% at the end of last week, a situation which has only worsened since the shutdown in February of a factory of manufacturer Abbott .
Accused at worst of indifference, at best of wait-and-see attitude, the White House on Thursday set out a few measures, of limited scope. “Our message to parents is: we heard, we want to do everything we can,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
The competition authority seized
The Biden administration plans, among other things, to increase imports, while the United States produces 98% of the formula milk it consumes. The White House has also seized the competition authority on the abuses linked to this situation of shortage, in particular the resale of infant milk online at exorbitant prices.
Jen Psaki indicated that one of the options still under study was to invoke the “Defense Production Act”, a text inherited from the Cold War which allows the American president to take economic decisions by decree.
But the White House has not risked predicting a way out of the crisis, while the Republican opposition, campaigning before the legislative elections in November, has seized on the subject and is pounding the Biden administration.
Republicans in battle order
Troy Nehls, of Texas, proposes to reserve the milk currently available “for Americans” rather than giving it “to illegals.”
The elected to the House of Representatives Elise Stefanik said at a press conference that she had contacted the federal authorities in February: “Joe Biden has no plan. When we asked the question at the White House about the shortage, they laughed.”
Randy Feenstra, an elected official from Iowa, assured him that, in his region, families “did up to 160 kilometers to try to find” powdered milk.
On the Democratic side, House of Representatives boss Nancy Pelosi let her frustration show on Thursday: “Right now, babies are hungry, babies are crying, we have to respond to this situation now.”
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