Congress Passes DelBene Bill to Boost Domestic Baby Formula Production
Both chambers pass legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support to help families
Today, Congress passed the Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act (H.R. 8982), bipartisan legislation that would boost domestic baby formula production and get more product on shelves amid the continued shortage across the United States. The House unanimously approved the legislation by voice vote this afternoon. Earlier in the day, the bill passed the Senate unanimously. It now goes to President Biden for his signature.
The bill temporarily lifts tariffs on safe imported ‘base powder,’ a key component filled with essential proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that is mixed with nutrients and other ingredients to make the formula that parents buy on store shelves or online. The current tariffs are 13.6% + $1.035/kg.
The bill was introduced on Monday by House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Member Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Chairman Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Ranking Member Adrian Smith (NE-03), and Members John B. Larson (CT-01), Dan Kildee (MI-05), and Drew Ferguson (GA-03). Its champions in the Senate include Senators Mike Lee (UT), Todd Young (IN), Mike Braun, and Bob Menendez (NJ).
“The passage of this legislation today is a huge win for families and will be a powerful tool in addressing the ongoing baby formula shortage. This measure, combined with the Formula Act that Congress approved in July, will help get more safe, affordable formula on store shelves and increase domestic production capacity,” said the House leads DelBene, Blumenauer, Smith, Larson, Kildee, Ferguson. “We thank our colleagues in the House and Senate for their overwhelming bipartisan support on this measure. This shows how we can put families first and show Americans governance can work for them.”
Nationally, the out-of-stock rate for formula is 61%, down from its May high of 86% but still an unacceptable level for parents who need to feed their children. In Washington state, 67% of store shelves are out of stock. Metro areas are hit harder, with Seattle’s average out-of-stock rate at 79%.
Lifting the tariffs on base powder and increasing domestic manufacturing would be especially helpful for families participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which must be used in brick-and-mortar retail stores and cannot be used for online purchases currently. About half the baby formula purchased in the United States is purchased through WIC.
Earlier this year, Congress passed the Formula Act that temporarily lifted tariffs on safe imported baby formula. The bipartisan bill was overwhelmingly supported in the House and Senate. It is currently reducing the cost of imported formula for parents by over 25%.
A summary of the Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act can be found here.