WASHINGTON D.C. (KTVE/KARD)- Congress passed bipartisan legislation Thursday to ensure families have access to formula to feed their babies. The Access to Baby Formula Act introduced by U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, and Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) was unanimously approved in the Senate.

Companion legislation overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives. The legislation will now head to the president’s desk to be signed into law. 

“Moms and dads in the most prosperous country on earth should never have to worry about their ability to obtain something as vital as baby formula. This legislation will benefit every American family by ensuring formula manufacturers and regulators are always prepared to respond to any shortages or supply disruptions and by providing more flexibilities to USDA and states in helping parents meet their children’s nutritional needs,” Boozman said on the Senate floor.

The Access to Baby Formula Act gives the USDA the authority to be more flexible during a crisis such as a natural disaster, public health emergency, recall or shortage like our country faces currently. This flexibility would ensure the brand or type of formula families can buy isn’t restricted by nutrition program rules, allowing families to purchase whatever is available in the store. In addition, the legislation would require baby formula manufacturers to have a plan in place to respond to shortages. 

Boozman also joined nearly two dozen Republican colleagues in demanding answers from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding its inadequate investigation into Abbott Nutrition’s Michigan manufacturing facility and failure to mitigate the nationwide baby formula shortage. The senators are seeking answers regarding the time at which the White House was made aware of the dire situation and the steps available to limit the harmful impact on families and their newborns.

“Infant formula supplies at local grocery stores were relatively stable for the first half of 2021. The out-of-stock percentage started to climb steadily in the later half and continued to worsen throughout this year. It’s concerning that FDA and key officials in the Administration did not anticipate this crisis or take action within days following Abbott Nutrition’s voluntary recall considering the company holds 48.1 percent of the U.S. market in infant formula. Families are getting to the brink of pursuing unsafe and potentially dangerous options to feed their infants including homemade infant formula. And physicians are, once again, running defense on misinformation due to a lack of federal action to get the word out on safe alternatives,” the senators wrote.