CBS’s Margaret Brennan presses Buttigieg on baby formula shortage: ‘Why has it taken so long?’
CBS News’ Margaret Brennan pressed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about why it has taken the Biden administration “so long” to respond to the baby formula shortage during Sunday’s “Face the Nation.”
“I know the president said more action is coming, but this has been ongoing for months. There were supply chain issues already, then you have issues with this one plant, Abbott. Whistleblower in September, February the recall. It’s May, why has it taken so long and why did the president on Friday seem to say it was new information to him?” Brennan asked, quoting Biden’s comments from May 13.
Grocery store shelves where baby formula is typically stocked are locked and nearly empty in Washington, DC, on May 11, 2022. (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
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The president said that had they been “better mind readers,” they could have acted on the shortage earlier.
Buttigieg said the Biden administration acted from “day one,” and pointed to the Abbott plant in Michigan, which was shut down after failing to preserve sanitary conditions and after linking baby formula made at the plant to several instances of infant illnesses.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg arrives to attend an event on the global supply chain bottlenecks during in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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“We are here because a company was not able to guarantee that its plant was safe. And that plant has to shut down,” he said. Brennan questioned him further, saying that it was “the federal government’s job as regulators” to help ensure that this does not happen.
The transportation secretary said that America was a “capitalist country” and that “the government does not make baby formula, nor should it. Companies make formula.”
The CBS host asked how the supply chain crisis was affecting the shortage of baby formula and how the administration is making sure that the “essential ingredients” are “actually available.”
President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the debt ceiling during an event in the State Dining Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 4 in Washington.
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
“A shortage of ingredients is not what led to the shutdown of the facility,” he responded. Brennan said that inflation was one of the factors in the ongoing baby formula shortage. She noted the administration was “trying” to bring baby formula in from Europe.
“It’s basically a series of monopolies that have added up into enormous market concentration,” Buttigieg said.
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The White House said Wednesday that the ongoing shortage of baby formula was a “top priority” for the administration.
“That’s something certainly we’ve been tracking. Ensuring that infant formula is safe and available for families across the country is a top priority to the White House,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in response to a reporter’s question about the shortage.
Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that using the Defense Production Act to address the shortage was “on the table.”