President Biden on Friday said he expects the administration will make progress on increasing the supply of baby formula soon, amid the ongoing national shortage.
“This is a process. We’re working on it very, very hard. There’s nothing more urgent we’re working on than that right now and I think we’re going to be making some significant progress very shortly,” he said at the White House.
When asked if the administration should have taken steps sooner, the president responded, “If we’ve been better mind readers, I guess we could have.”
“But, we moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us. And, we have to move with caution as well as speed because we gotta make sure what we’re getting is in fact first-rate product. That’s why the FDA has to go through the process,” he said.
Earlier on Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki would not offer a ballpark window for how many weeks or months the White House expects until baby formula is well-stocked at big box retail stores.
The president pointed to steps his administration is taking to address the shortage, including expanded flexibility in a key program for the poor — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). He also mentioned that the U.S. is increasing imports of formula from abroad, and he pointed to the newly launched website for resources about the shortage.
Biden had remarked about the baby formula shortage: “All of a sudden it’s on the front page of every newspaper.”
The White House has been on the defense over its reaction to the shortage of baby formula, emphasizing that it quickly took action on the issue. Psaki said on Friday the administration has “not waited to take action.”
When asked if there was more they could have done sooner, Psaki said, “Well look, hindsight is always 20-20.”
Abbott Nutrition recalled products in February, but the baby formula shortage has been ongoing and formula supply has been spotty for months because of supply chain pressures and labor shortages.
Biden penned a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan on Thursday, asking the independent agency to “consider using all of its available tools and authorities to actively monitor the infant formula market and address any illegal conduct that may be contributing to scarcity and hoarding as well as study whether rural or smaller retailers are being put at a disadvantage.”