Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022

Floor Speech

Date: May 18, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PALLONE. Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act.

I particularly thank Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro for all she has done to shed light on the contamination of infant formula and the problems with FDA enforcement. She talks about me, but I will talk about her, because she has really taken this issue to heart for such a long period of time.

I have to say that I am extremely upset listening to the Members on the other side, the Republicans, talk about this crisis and how it could have been avoided. I have been on the Energy and Commerce Committee for over 30 years. FDA's policies of food safety, unlike that for drugs and medical devices, are not based on fees paid by the manufacturers. This is because Republicans in the past have not been willing to impose those fees on the manufacturers.

I can tell you from personal experience, when I tried to include a fee structure in food safety initiatives in the past before my committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, every time, it was opposed by the Republicans because they were listening to the manufacturers who didn't want that fee schedule imposed on them. We have it for drugs. We have it for medical devices. We don't have it for food safety, and that is right in the hands of the Republican leadership.

I am not particularly blaming the appropriators today, because this was not an appropriations issue. This was an Energy and Commerce issue. But to suggest in some way that this is the Democrats, I will tell you, it is the Republicans. If that money had been in place, we would have had the inspectors, and we would have had the ability, in my opinion, to do a lot more on the issue of food safety. So this crisis, to some extent, is based on the Republicans' unwillingness to adopt a fee schedule and provide that regular source of funding for the FDA.

Now, let me also say that in addition to the emergency funding, the House is also voting tonight to grant flexibility to the WIC program. I thank the Committee on Education and Labor for that.

The Biden administration has taken a number of important actions to respond to this shortage, including working with manufacturers to increase production and encouraging importation of safe infant formula. Today, as the chairwoman of Appropriations said, the operation the White House has announced, including the use of the Defense Production Act, shows that this administration has continued to commit to end this crisis.

The Energy and Commerce Committee also today unanimously passed a measure to allow the FDA to streamline processes for hiring highly skilled professionals and retain them with competitive salaries. This will help to ensure our infant formula supply is safe and inspectors are on the job.

Now, I just want to say, Madam Speaker, manufacturers have to do a better job in the future to alert the FDA of potential shortages so we can shift production quickly. The FDA must be empowered to move more quickly to set limits on contamination, which is currently bogged down in long and cumbersome regulatory processes.

We understand that more needs to be done, but this bill needs to be passed today.

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