Steel’s bipartisan Access to Baby Formula Act set to become law

Both chambers of Congress fast-tracked U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel’s (R-CA) bipartisan Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022 and have sent it to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

Rep. Steel on May 17 led a bipartisan contingent of 95 original cosponsors in introducing H.R. 7791, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), to amend current law to establish waiver authority addressing certain emergencies, disasters and supply chain disruptions. The U.S. House of Representatives on May 18 voted 414-9 to approve H.R. 7791 and the U.S. Senate gave the bill its unanimous consent on May 19. 

“As a parent there’s nothing more important than ensuring the health and safety of your child. Families desperate to feed their babies shouldn’t have to face empty shelves because of government mismanagement and overregulation,” Rep. Steel said. “This bipartisan legislation will provide certainty for recipients and manufacturers, ensuring this crisis doesn’t happen again.”

Specifically, Rep. Steel said H.R. 7791 creates certainty for recipients in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and infant formula manufacturers in the event of another emergency or supply chain disruption. 

The National WIC Association endorsed the bill, which will require manufacturers to submit a plan with their bids for contracts that will cover how they will address an emergency or disruption without impacting WIC recipients, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmaker’s staff.

Additionally, the legislation will allow the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to issue a narrow set of waivers in the event of an emergency or disruption to help formula get back on the shelves quickly, the summary says, and will require the Agriculture Secretary to be transparent about the need for the emergency declaration and any potential renewal, among other provisions.