President Joe Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to boost the supply for baby formula, The Washington Post reports.
Biden invoked the Korean War-era defense law to ramp up domestic manufacturing amid a shortage of baby formula.
The White House said the order requires suppliers of key baby formula ingredients to prioritize the delivery of those ingredients to formula producers.
The White House also said the administration will launch a new operation to use Defense Department air cargo contracts to rapidly deliver imports.
The federal government previously used the Defense Product Act to speed up production of key resources during the Covid pandemic.
House passes $28M bill:
The order came as the House approved a bill that would expand access to baby formula for low-income Americans.
Democrats also approved $28 million in new funding for the Food and Drug Administration to prevent future disruptions and improve safety inspections after an Abbott Laboratories plant in Michigan was shut down due to sanitation concerns.
“As Abbott spent billions buying back its own stock, it appears that it failed to make necessary repairs to fix a critical manufacturing plant of infant formula located in Michigan,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden said.
A spokesperson for Abbott said the company’s stock buybacks “are not impacting our ability to invest in or reopen” the facility.
Disruption linked to Abbott closure:
Much of the shortage is tied to the Abbott closure.
Abbott is one of just four manufacturers that produce 90% of baby formula in the U.S.
In February, Abbott recalled its formula after two children died from bacteria, though the company denied that the deaths were due to its products.
The Biden administration has worked with Abbott on a way to reopen the plant safely.
Congressional lawmakers said they would soon hold a hearing with witnesses from Abbott and other manufacturers as well as the Food and Drug Administration.