WASHINGTON – Today, Congress passed a bipartisan bill, the Access to Baby Formula Act, to make sure moms and babies who rely on the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) have the formula they need. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and John Boozman (R-AR), Ranking Member, acted urgently to introduce the bipartisan legislation yesterday and unanimously passed it today. The companion bill passed the House by a 414-9 vote. The bill will now go to President Biden for signature.
“I am proud of how swiftly we worked together – House, Senate, Democrat, Republican –to bring forward and pass this overwhelmingly bipartisan legislation,” said Senator Stabenow. “We have to make sure there are no barriers for parents to get their babies the formula they need. Secretary Vilsack and his team worked quickly to get as much help to as many families as possible. This bill will make sure there is never a delay in getting help out the door, and it will hold baby formula manufacturers accountable if they want to do business with USDA.”
“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,” said Senator Boozman. “I appreciate the bipartisan support in the Senate to quickly pass this bill and deliver relief to families.”
The WIC program provides information on healthy eating and helps millions of families buy nutritious foods including baby formula. This legislation gives the USDA the authority they need to be more flexible during a crisis such as a natural disaster, public health emergency, or recall and shortage currently facing our country. This flexibility would ensure that the brand or type of formula families can buy isn’t restricted by program rules, allowing families to purchase whatever is available in the store. In addition, the legislation would require that formula manufacturers that provide formula for WIC babies have a plan in place to respond to a shortage so that families will be able to purchase the formula they need.
The Access to Baby Formula Act is supported by more than 250 national, regional, and local child nutrition advocates.
The bill is cosponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Hoeven (R-ND), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tina Smith (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Casey (D-PA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rob Portman (R-OH), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Patty Murray (D-WA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Jon Tester (D-MT), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).