December 5, 2022
On Thursday’s “PBS NewsHour,” White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese responded to a question on why the Biden administration didn’t invoke the Defense Production Act to address the baby formula shortage earlier by stating that the administration has

On Thursday’s “PBS NewsHour,” White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese responded to a question on why the Biden administration didn’t invoke the Defense Production Act to address the baby formula shortage earlier by stating that the administration has been working on the issue since February and “the reason why we are where we are today, where production is getting to 100%, is because of the work that’s been happening over the last several weeks.”

“NewsHour” Chief Washington Correspondent Geoff Bennett asked, “You have said that the administration was aware of this infant formula shortage back in February. So, why then did the government let it get to this point? Why not invoke the DPA much earlier to ease this supply situation?”

Deese responded, “The genesis of this challenge was that, in mid-February, on February 17, the FDA shut a facility, but — from Abbott manufacturing in Sturgis, Michigan. Because of a concern that the formula that was being produced was unsafe. That was a safety judgment that has to be made. And, of course, we’re dealing with infant formula, so we have to put safety at the front here. But, immediately after that happened, the administration began working with manufacturers and retailers to try to make sure that production was increasing. And, in fact, the reason why we are where we are today, where production is getting to 100%, is because of the work that’s been happening over the last several weeks.”

Deese continued, “The reason for the Defense Production Act now is we want to make sure that manufacturers can maintain and stay at that 100% capacity. We don’t want any manufacturer, now that they have ramped up, to be in a place where, for example, they can’t get the bottles that they need to fulfill an order or they can’t get an input that they need to fill an order. Having the flexibility of the Defense Production Act now in place will ensure that they can stay at this high rate of production going forward.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett