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tv   House Speaker Pelosi Democrats Hold Briefing on Baby Formula Shortage  CSPAN  May 18, 2022 5:03am-5:47am EDT

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good afternoon everyone. i usually say for the children today, for the children, for the babies. as telling our colleagues as they gather here they were driving behind a truck this morning that said for the babies on top. nothing to do with what were dealing with it now just a regular delivery truck with things for the babies. that is a centerpiece of all of this now. our babies. the nutrition they receive and they are very young has such an impact is security their families feel is what is all about today the house democrats
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are doing with new legislative agenda to ease the unconscionable infant formula shortage. there are two bold bills we have you'll hear about them. bobby scott on the floor with workforce congresswoman worked very hard on bill you'll hear about that talks about the wic program. we are very honored to have on our side of the al returning a former member of the house. >> we are very, very proud with our leadership of the agriculture and commission and forestry commission on the senate which has the jurisdiction that labor has over here to talk about that legislation they have as well as how it impacts the wic program. on appropriations as the chair before she was the chair of the
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almighty powerful whole committee of appropriations. one time she was on the egg subcommittee which has largely nutrition and it. so she knows of this issue well number talk about appropriations bill on that. he will be having meant to speak more to that. maybe hearing that from the other as well. you will be hearing from that today. none of this would be possible without the speed and efficiency of getting this legislation at the floor in very short order. the minute the leader heard about this issue and took it up with chairs and chairs a committee we were on our way. so thank you mr. leader for your knowledge of this issue, your appreciation for the urgency and
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giving us this opportunity to give bills this week. it's now my privilege to yield to distinguish democratic leader of the house mr. hoyer of maryland. >> gives meet special status when someone from maryland. i am pleased to be here with madame speaker. thank you very much for grabbing this and going with it. the chair of the appropriations committee meets with us. she has done a lot of work on this. brock the facts to our attention and the problems to our attention. class the chores or in any jurisdiction to look at this the appropriations committee has a special role also chairman
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malone was the over in the number of other committees as a speaker pointed out have jurisdiction to deal these questions. there is nothing more critical to families than to be able to feed their children. throughout the industry for the stories of parents living in poverty who will forgo every need of their own just to get a little food or milk for the younger children to survive and hopefully thrive. the circumstances that led to the current infant shortage will surely need to be investigated. and i know that will happen in the appropriation committee and other committees. focus on how to address the challenge and make sure all babies in america the first vulnerable months of life and i
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am amazed and the fairness of the shelves. i don't have any young children i'm sorry my granddaughter has not infant children your youngest great-grandchild. but i think to myself a young mom with infant children looking at those shelves and then having to go online and have to find someplace she can beat competent and she healthy food for her baby. that is why the houses moving forward to craft legislation led by chairwoman and represented hayes, bobby scott will do that is having hearing next week when we have a committee week. mothers across the country are looking to us for help. might force them to face this crisis on their own. we are on their side.
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once he is on their side may vote in legislation | public and collects be filled with what's shakespeare called the milk of human kindness. over the milk of human survival. so i hope my colleagues will join with us to move swiftly in addressing this pressing challenge. let's get this done together. and let's get this done fast. going to thank all of my colleagues and i'm going to think senator stabenow for the work she's doing. she's going to be speaking herself. we are glad she is here as a partner and making sure that moms will be able to feed their infants. >> thank you.
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>> thank you very much it is wonderful to appear with all of you. i just have to thank the speaker i have to thank every leader who is on here for the focus, the sense of urgency, the understanding of what is going on. i know with a new baby you just want to hold them close. and not frantically running to the grocery store going online trying to find out whether or not you can get food for your baby. we understand that and we are laser focused. i'm so pleased with congresswoman hayes, chairman scott to be focusing on the wic program which is about half of the babies in our country who get their food, moms and babies through the wic program and the baby formula. this is very, very important. we are working together on a bill and both on language and hope we can move this quickly. not only in the house where i know they will move quickly, but
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in the senate as well. i do want to say it went all this came about i very much appreciate the moment usda was notified and acted quickly. i appreciate that their issues of making sure they know through fda what is happening when so they can move quickly. very much appreciate that. i appreciate the president what he is doing. want to make sure there is more flexibility's. boric example when a family because of the grocery store there's only one brand on the shelf right now. if it is not the approved brand under wic there is a problem but usda has said we are giving them the flexibility and we want to make that permanent they can purchase what is available, safe and available per there's a number of flexibilities that we are working on that are very, very important. we went to make sure when there is a shortage and a situation that all hands on deck and the
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federal government. all the partners are talking to each other and all of them are moving quickly. i just want to thank all of my colleagues who are here and proud to be your partner. this is something leader schumer cares deeply about. we met in our leadership team about this last night. and we are anxious to work with the house to make sure moms and babies are getting the healthy food safely that they need, thank you. >> and the bill that is in the senate as a counter to the build the house. bobby scott, chair of the committee has taken the lead on this in the house. very proud of her leadership in this regard and eager to hear what she has to say. >> thank you madame speaker. as you just heard senator stabenow say, wic recipients utilize formula at a rate double most other people in this country about 50% of our babies
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rely on the wic program for milk. that is disproportionate. i spent this morning in my office returning calls to people in my district two had reached out. they started a facebook group to try to figure out when and where they can buy formula. people are selling samples on the street. mothers are watering down formula. quite frankly they are desperate. this is what i heard person after person after sports and i spoke to this morning. i'm very excited congress is taking action today to help our most vulnerable families. over the past few weeks speaker pelosi in every meeting we have been in, has raised this issue -- make christchurch drink crisis of formula shortage i am excited to work with leader and introduce the baby formula act which is really a backup plan. this should've been a backup plan for when there was a recall for families who receive it wic how they be able to access formula. this bill provides a waiver to
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authorize the governing bodies to address emergency disasters and supply chain disruption. which will help us prepare for future events. i'm very excited to be able to work with chairman bobby scott on this issue but i chaired the nutrition subcommittee on ag. but wic falls under labor. with this bill showed democrats are aligned on this issue and really working together not only to open up the supply chain to get milk and baby formula back on the shelves immediately, but long-term to make sure we have a plan in place so this never happens again. i can tell you that i understand completely what parents are going through right now. i was a participant in the wic program. i know what it means to not be able to stretch out milk through the entire month. that is what i heard this morning on the phone from these parents and grandparents that i was talking to. but i would like to tell them as
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their words are not falling on deaf ears. we see them and we hear them and we are working very hard in congress to address this rising concern. with everything going on right now the last thing a family should have to worry about is feeding their children. so again, very excitable bring this legislation to the floor of the house. we will act swiftly and vote on it move it to senate would get much-needed relief to these parents and their children. thank you. >> thank you very much for your personal experience of the situation. as you were speaking i was thinking of those who have gone before us in the congress who establish the wic program women infants and children. it's the long view of what we need for our children it is such an important initiative. again that falls under the bed and labor committee congressman has been tracking these issues
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as chair of the appropriation committee but long before that. she is going to gives the full picture of where we're going to go with the money it what we have to do pretty very proud of our present who said we must deal with this quickly but safely. and cautiously. that is what the charwoman is doing. >> thank you madame speaker. thank you so much for gathering us here today and for all of the work that has been demoed by my colleagues on what is a serious issue with the critically important issue and if i might like to give a shout out as well to the chair of the egg appropriation committee chairman bishop has been engaged and involved in this effort as well. it is a very serious problem in this country. parents as you have heard are struggling. parents are struggling. people today live paycheck to paycheck they are now scrambling to find the formula to feed their babies. and what is the wealthiest nation in the world.
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there are two parts, two parts to the infant formula shortage. safety and supply. we should not have to, parents should not have to choose between these two things. we should not be creating what is a false dichotomy put the bill introduces morning morning immediately addresses the shortage the here and now. by quickly trying to get product on the shelf and help to prevent it from not happening again. this shortage was caused in large part because of corporate greed and consolidation. there are only four manufacturers of infant formula in the united states. only four. so in one piece, abbott, is pulled out of the equation which services the wic program as been stated here one point to million babies. they have a contract for that. when you pull that up you can then envision the shortage on
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the shelf. in this case it was abbott nutrition put profits in production over people. due to what is a disgraceful oversight is causing parents and caregivers to struggle to feed their kids. the images of empty shelves, desperate families are heartbreaking with the legislation does provides $28 million in new funding for the fda. it will provide fda urgently rated nice resources to address the shortage, to prevent fraudulent products from entering into the marketplace. to help acquire better data on the situation in the marketplace and to prevent these shortages from happening again. we strengthen their workforce, focus on formula issues and increase fda inspection staff. in response to question i i asked the fda and how they would be able to review and fit
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formula submissions, i was told that they have only nine people to do this. this would be coming from domestic manufacturers, foreign manufacturers to be able to look and see if this is a quality project. if it meets our standards. what this will also allow the fda to do, with the resources is look at fda facilities around the world. there are seven in europe, two in mexico. and there may be others that come online. what happens is we can then be in touch and get that products that they are producing again and fda approved source. to make sure have a standard of which to compare the product with. so the fda plays such a critical
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role in ensuring formula provides a full nutritional needs of infants. that is manufactured and safest way possible for today we are making sure the lack of funding is not a barrier to getting safe formula to parents and two babies. meeting the need today is necessary. no baby goes hungry. no parent has to struggle to find the food to be their child. the efforts of the future will help ensure we are not forced to go back and re-create this desperate situation. it is not enough. as the speaker pointed out people are doing different things. we are talking about wic we are talking about energy and commerce, doing hearings. but we have to address -- we have the people who are accountable. you understand that at least two babies died. for more hospitalized.
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i recently released a whistleblower report which highlighted a list of allegations of wrongdoing at the abbott nutrition factory that was pretty city formula. recalls happened but this company has lied. it has cut corners and falsified records to cover up missed doings at the sake of infant health. that is wrong, just plain wrong. egg appropriation subcommittee is going to hold a hearing on thursday with the fda commissioner. we have a hearing the following week with experts and stakeholders. in ig report has been ordered. that takes a while as you know. but to look at accountability there will be additional piece of legislation which provides authority -- more authorities to the fda and the opportunity for the defense production act. so the work is not done. we are continuing all of us to
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work hard to get to the long-term root causes of this does not happen again. but that i am pleased to introduce the chair of the energy and commerce committee. >> thank you rose thank you madame speaker and everyone really was been involved in this. not just in the last few weeks but long term. i want to develop a little bit of what rosa said about the safety aspect as well as a supply aspect. a lot of attention has been focused on the supply and of course the shortage with abbott being recalled. it is been mentioned by my colleagues we have to look at this in both ways. i know i was the author of the food safety act years ago. some people came up to me in the last few days and said if they had not recalled the abbott formula we would not be in this mess today. and i was like are you kidding
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me? babies died, kids got sick. you can't look at it that way say we should not do a recall. over the years we've been very careful to say there are problems here. and if formula is contaminated it shouldn't be sold. the answer is to look at both of these. make sure we have a supply and we get rid of the shortage now. but in terms what the authorizing committee this is what a hearing is going to be about next wednesday. what needs to be done in the future to make sure this crisis does not happen again. that involves supply with the fda goes what is recalled what is contaminated the testing is done often enough and quickly enough. one of the things we have been looking at is right now we don't really have an immediate or quick way of finding out whether there is a shortage. one of the things we very well
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may do is legislation that says they have to notify us what kind of supply they have to notify the fda what kind of supply and all set within find this contamination this is quickly figured out how to correct it. these are the kinds of problems we are facing. i just wanted to say just so you know the hearing is next wednesday. both the fda commissioner the food policy in response deputy commissioner and the center for food safety are going to be at next week's hearing. we have the three companies abbott, gerber, and racket and senior people within those organizations. those are the three companies that produce about 80% of the supply port also wanted to mention tomorrow our committee has a full committee markup on
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the fda user fee to reauthorize the way we pay and authorized drugs. one of the provisions in that package makes it easier for the fda to recruit and retain highly qualified staff across the agency including areas overseas or need inspection. i believe your appropriations pays for more staff and training of staff as well, inspectors as well. these are all things that need to be done i want to thank all of my colleagues for everything we are doing to deal with this problem immediately and also make sure this does not happen again, thank you madame speaker. >> thank you, mr. chairman. when you mentioned the user fee and the fda the important to see what the appetite is for a user fee for the food part of food and drug administration. if we could get eight user fee on the food side we could have a much bigger budget for staffing the rest on the food side of food and drug administration.
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fda has no power to recall. it really is an issue the food and drug administration can say something is wrong with this and the public reaction to it is effectively within recall. there is no power. in hopes we could pass it when we have not been able to get it over time and other legislation that requires bipartisan vote. in terms of recall only use that term is not the power of recall it is the persuasion of companies recalling voluntarily. so you see we have a stronger hand to play here if we would be willing to do so. there is also some attitude in
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the country that there is plenty of supply it is just not all in the right places. there must be a computer program that tells us where that is. that is so let's get that moving a right this into the mouths of babies. we fight all the time not to take food out of the mouths of babies. some initiatives might result in. as a mother five, grandmother of nine a long time ago for me, i can still hear a baby cry, a baby is hungry a mother, a parent, dad, mom, grandpa and whomever the caregiver should not have to hear a baby cry without being able to fulfill the need to anticipate the need. again it must be safe. we have to be cautious in how we proceed but we have to do this as quickly, as safely as possible. so with that i'm pleased to take any questions.
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reporter: can you talk about the 28 million. [inaudible] is there a world in which fda companies. [inaudible] >> no. no. what this does is divided up monitoring and assessment with the million and half dollars. state partnerships, laboratory methods, development $3 million for the office of regulatory affairs. social media data capture analysis to identify unsafe infant formula. we can track stuff online. that is,, half a million dollars. then it's infant formula and staffing. speaker spoke if we are going to bring more companies online that
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are fda approved and that is either domestically or internationally, those facilities have to be inspected. fda does not have the adequate inspection force to be able to do that and do it in a timely way. the other piece as i mentioned earlier, you are going to look at companies who want to try to provide us with a product. who may not be fda approved. that is a submission. nine people, that is it. at the crux of this is providing infrastructure if you will in order to do what needs to get done. that is about as quickly as possible i would get product in and get it on the shelves. that is what this is about. if supply chain data is looking at fraud, my god you could have
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anybody coming for is that they this, they do that and unless we have a standard to judge them by it unless we can inspect and look at all of this, we take a very big risk. the speaker spoke about mothers, parents, they are sent okay go to a pediatrician and say what should i do? the pediatrician may be okay. think about being a mother eating to feed your baby and you're scared we feed your baby is going to cause harm. get this done, then take up the issue of accountability they drag their feet for several months before there was a recall speakers that we do not have power recall the company that
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determines if they're going to recall the product. reporter: [inaudible] is the 28 million. [inaudible] press secretary was tracking. 28 million in funding happened months ago. could congress help prevent the catastrophic shortage? >> could i just say this, the biden administration has been taking action. they provided more flexibility for the wic program to boost its accessibility they worked with manufacturing production and encourage importation. needs to be done. that's all we are talking about the other bill at work.
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the author is down the line. this is complex. one of the things that bothered me from other countries it's been the abbott stuff that's already been taken off the market here. it's not just the of supply but safe supply. to make sure the stuff being recalled is not being used and what they use now is safer. >> hear your question for usda move very as you heard senator stabenow speak is to give wic and the usda more power.
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secretary bill sect does not deal with moving the pieces around. the first toys that came out, speaking of maneuver that whistleblowers report call for an inspector general investigation recall in february by the fda and why? that's going to take a lot the issuing crisis is now how do we and very short order of fda to bring a product back and holding
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people's feet to the fire for going to investigate abbott and chips fall where they may people have to be accountable for the staff fda. they may just say it's very important but understanding it very carefully is too. some babies need a very special kind of formula. only one manufacturer makes that. it became contaminated predefined about the issue look into it or look into the nature of this. what is it they have to address. that was one part of it. they reference the babies who died they this special formula in a special category that was contaminated.
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then the fungibility runs to the next supply chain issue is rearing its head in many ways. when it comes to babies it is the here and now and it is this moment. i think when all of this is done, i'm not to associate my colleagues with what i'm going to say right now. go to save myself. i think there might be a need for indictment. other any other questions? reporter: whether it was necessary why this money is urgently needed. [inaudible] may not support the legislation because i cannot answer for the senate will do a lot of money
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20 million with an m. i just don't agree with. this was a very crafted number, there's a provision fda has to report the house appropriations every week on the utilization of the funding so we know what is happening and that they are accountable for the use of that fund. ask one more question. reporter: x we have to have regular order is the workforce
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development went to rules today for a wic bill the senate will be dealing may help in understanding is with ukraine legislation the next couple of days. reporter: [inaudible] how quickly you think the 28 million clicks on the dress that in this way i read the guidance from the fda. while i believe it is a good step in trying to move forward, i am disappointed in this that we will look at both foreign and
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domestic facilities that are not fda approved. i believe we ought to be doing business fda approved facilities. i believe that will be much quicker process. you have to do the investigation pretty have to visit pretty have to do all of those things. we have to go the overseas facilities at the moment they are in france and germany, in the netherlands and ireland and denmark. there are several of my viewers could go that product could be immediately brought back to the u.s. in a much more timely way. i agree with you, we cannot wait two months to have this. guess it would do that the bill would also allow for the ability
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to get the product from an fda already approved facility. we have facilities that have passed inspection. let's go there first. and then let's get a product back and get it on the shelves as quickly as we can. reporter: [inaudible] >> my hope is we have got a path in the house which we will do we have to see about the senate. i would not understand why anyone would not want to move as quickly as we can with giving people the wherewithal to get the product and bring it back here. this is not a democratic issue or a republican issue this is a risk in the life of babies in this country. may just say there's a couple things happening.
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as has been told to us there is a product in our country. it's a question of where it is and where it needs to be taken too. we said let's use the vaccine model of transferring to localities. the fda is not a transportation agency maybe they're looking into a private sector facilities that can move that. what is that? how much is that? could be 80%. if so we would have stuff on the shelf right away. we don't know enough so we are finding out. be, during covid it was almost impossible for the fda to travel to foreign countries to inspect plants. that has been a setback. i'm not just talking about baby food formula.
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i am talking but other sources of fda approved products. you know that they were not able to travel or get into these plants because of covid. so that is a setback. we wanted as soon as possible. and how much can we get safely? is a story approved? >> no. >> they have supply we have to see if they are professed not just a question of its they are, let's buy it important in all of that. not holding anything up which is occupied happily now. not happily, but thank god so they can do that tomorrow and
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then be on their schedule shortly thereafter. we would hope in terms of the wic bill congresswoman hayes and madam chair stabenow's bill would hopefully be overwhelmingly bipartisan read will see where this goes we have to go, thank you so much.
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