Democrats voted Wednesday to increase the budget of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including for its food safety division, coming directly off of the agency’s mishandling of the nationwide baby formula shortage.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies forwarded its 2023 funding bill by voice vote Wednesday, even as Republicans objected to rewarding the FDA after it failed to prevent the baby formula crisis. The budget would increase overall funding of the FDA by 10%, to $3.6 billion, and provide almost $1.2 billion for the agency’s food safety programs.
NEW: @AppropsDems have advanced the 2023 Agriculture, Rural Development and FDA funding bill, providing critical funds to help keep American food and baby formula safe.
Learn more: https://t.co/X4ScjXD28d pic.twitter.com/efPtVNtuSc
— House Appropriations (@AppropsDems) June 15, 2022
“We are ensuring the FDA has the resources and the personnel to conduct inspections … and thoroughly review infant formula applications and the manufacturing contracts,” Appropriations Committee Chair and Democratic Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro said.
Republicans who objected to the budget claimed the FDA doesn’t deserve additional funding after it mishandled the shutdown of Abbott’s baby formula plant and the ensuing shortage that occurred.
“Instead of holding the agency accountable, this bill provides a significant increase for the FDA that will go to hire more of the same bureaucrats that missed the problem in the first place,” Republican Texas Rep. Kay Granger argued.
In May, the Washington Post reported that the FDA didn’t notify its top food safety official for four months after it received a whistleblower report about Abbott’s Sturgis, Michigan, baby formula plant. The agency initiated a voluntary recall of Abbott’s formula and shutdown of its plant on Feb. 17 after receiving the whistleblower report about safety concerns at the facility in October of last year.
“It wasn’t sent to me and it wasn’t shared with me internally. How does this happen?” Frank Yiannas, the agency’s top food safety official, told The Post. “There were early signals and in any safety profession you want to take those seriously to stop the domino effect. That didn’t happen.”
The FDA’s two food safety divisions don’t report directly to Yiannas. At the time of the whistleblower report, they reported to acting commissioner Janet Woodcock. (RELATED: Inspector General To Investigate Biden’s Baby Formula Debacle)
After the FDA and Abbott reached an agreement in May to reopen the Sturgis plant, it was again shut down this week due to flooding.