Parents and childcare providers from across Iowa’s Third Congressional District have told me about the devastating impacts the nationwide shortage of infant formula is having right here in Iowa.
Following Abbott Nutrition’s closing a plant due to safety issues, the out-of-stock rate for infant formula in Iowa is more than 50% and has left parents spending hours trying to hunt down formula.
As a mother of two, I know that nothing comes before your kids’ well-being, and I deeply understand the fear and frustration of parents who are wondering if they’ll be able to find the formula their kids need.
This is unacceptable, so I have been hard at work, shoring up the nation’s domestic supply chain to help ensure formula is put back on shelves as soon as possible, including writing to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and President Biden.
I recently supported and then voted with a bipartisan majority of my colleagues in Congress for the Access to Baby Formula Act, which will give the U.S. Department of Agriculture flexibility to make sure families who depend on the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program to help afford formula can continue to purchase safe infant formula during a supply chain disruption or public health emergency.
WIC recipients account for nearly half of all formula sales across the country. I am pleased that the Senate acted quickly to pass this legislation and I look forward to it quickly becoming law.
I also voted for the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act to provide $28 million in emergency funding to the FDA to help address the current shortage, prevent future shortages and keep fraudulent products from reaching store shelves.
President Biden has also invoked the Defense Production Act to ensure infant formula producers have the resources they need to increase supply, and Operation Fly Formula will use Department of Defense aircraft to accelerate importation of infant formula.
These actions will help us get formula in the hands of families and get the shelves stocked again. But we need to look at long-term solutions so that no family ever has to go through this again, and I am continuing to work to address the practices and fix the breakdowns that got us to this point.
I also know gas prices are a huge burden on Iowa families right now, including my own.
These high prices are being driven by big oil companies, including four of the largest that collectively made $27 billion in profits during the first quarter of this year, after making almost $71 billion in 2021.
These companies are gouging Iowans and manipulating the market by producing less than they should to keep prices and their profits high.
It’s not fair to hard-working Iowans, and I am fighting to put an end to these practices.
That’s why I voted for the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act to enable President Biden to issue an Energy Emergency Proclamation, making it unlawful to excessively increase gas and home energy prices.
It also gives the Federal Trade Commission power to issue penalties and empower states to go after price gouging.
This is the first-ever federal law against price gouging and will help lower costs for Iowans by ending money-grabbing tactics, penalizing market manipulators and providing transparency to the secretive oil and gas market.
I will always stand up for hard-working Iowans and protect them from the largest oil companies in the world and will continue to look for more ways to bring down gas prices, including by supporting domestic and homegrown biofuels.
While I continue my work to shore up our nation’s supply chains and reduce prices for Iowa families, I have also introduced new pieces of legislation that I am looking forward to seeing become law.
I recently joined several of my colleagues in introducing the bipartisan Pathways to Policing Act, which invests in programs to help state and local law enforcement agencies that are struggling to maintain adequate staffing levels.
This legislation focuses on bolstering the pipeline of service-oriented individuals to ensure agencies have the resources they need to keep our communities safe, and it helps recruit individuals who haven’t traditionally been involved in law enforcement.
I also passed my Student Veteran Work Study Modernization Act through the House, which would ensure veterans who are enrolled in higher education courses part-time will be able to take advantage of VA Work Study programs.
That bill means a lot to me because I believe every veteran who has served our country deserves access to the benefits they’ve earned.
I hope to see this legislation move through the Senate soon and look forward to continuing to fight for our veterans.
Rep. Cindy Axne of West Des Moines represents Iowa’s Third Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. She can be reached at 202-225-5476.