White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre spent over 20 seconds flipping through her binder before responding to a reporter’s question on the baby formula shortage.
The reporter inquired about the most recent developments in the baby formula shortage across America, where a recall by one of the country’s largest formula producers, Abbott Nutrition, resulted in 40% of the most popular brands being out of stock in the United States as of April. In February, the manufacturer’s Michigan plant was shut down because of the recall.
“Sure, hold on a second,” said Jean-Pierre, flipping through her binder for over 20 seconds. “I don’t have anything new. I’m aware that last week we announced something, but I just don’t have it in front of me right now. However, if you want to return and talk through the things we’ve been able to accomplish lately—the most recent activities we’ve completed—that would be great.”
On May 18, US President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) “to guarantee that manufacturers have all of the essential components necessary to produce safe and healthy infant formula at home,” according to a White House statement. This instructs suppliers to transport required ingredients to baby formula producers before any other client who has placed an order for the product.
The president also announced “Operation Fly Formula,” which allows the usage of DOD planes to transport formulas to the United States. On June 6, the administration revealed that a flight would depart on June 9 with 3.7 million 8oz bottles of Kendamil formula from London and also shipments of Bubs Australia from Melbourne to California and Philadelphia during the second week of June.
On June 1, the president acknowledged that he was unaware of “how serious” the shortage had gotten until April.
“It’s this way,” Biden explained. “I discovered the difficulty sometime in early April when it was at its peak. From that point on, we did everything we could to make a difference.”
“What I can tell you is what we’ve been doing as an administration since the start of this recall. The steps we took had a real impact,” she said during an interview with Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy. “DPA [Defense Production Act] is allowing businesses to plan for production expansion in a reliable manner.”