[Congressional Record Volume 168, Number 158 (Thursday, September 29, 2022)]
[Pages H8264-H8267]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Ms. DelBENE. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the 
bill (H.R. 8982) to amend the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United

[[Page H8265]]

States to suspend temporarily rates of duty on imports of certain 
infant formula base powder used in the manufacturing of infant formula 
in the United States, and for other purposes.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.. 8982

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Bulk Infant Formula to 
     Retail Shelves Act''.


       (a) In General.--Subchapter III of chapter 99 of the 
     Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (in the 
     section referred to as the ``HTS'') is amended by inserting 
     the following new subheading in numerical sequence:

``        .................  Infant formula base
                              powder to be used in
                              manufacturing infant
                              formula in the
                              United States,
                              exported on or
                              before November 14,
                              2022, by a party
                              that has been
                              determined by the
                              Food and Drug
                              Administration to be
                              authorized to
                              lawfully market
                              infant formula in
                              the United States or
                              has received a
                              letter of
                              discretion from the
                              Food and Drug
                              relating to the
                              marketing of its
                              infant formula in
                              the United States:
          9903.19.23           Provided for in      Free            No change           No change           ''.

       (b) Definition and Applicability.--The U.S. Notes to 
     subchapter III of chapter 99 of the HTS are amended by adding 
     at the end following:
       ``21.(a) For purposes of subheading 9903.19.23, the term 
     `infant formula base powder' means a dry mixture of protein, 
     fat, and carbohydrates that requires only the addition of 
     vitamins and minerals in order to meet the definition of the 
     term `infant formula' in section 201(z) of the Federal Food, 
     Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 321(z)).
       ``(b) The necessary proof that an import is a qualifying 
     infant formula base powder under subheading 9903.19.23 shall 
     be established by a written notice from the Food and Drug 
     Administration that the base powder shipment qualifies for 
     importation under such subheading.
       ``(c) The duty-free treatment of infant formula base powder 
     set forth in subheading 9903.19.23 shall apply only with 
     respect to the importation of an aggregate quantity not 
     exceeding 2,600 metric tons of such infant formula base 
       (c) Effective Date.--The amendments made by subsections (a) 
     and (b) shall apply with respect to goods entered, or 
     withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, during the period 
     beginning on the third day after the date of enactment of 
     this Act and ending at the close of December 31, 2022.
       (d) Waiver of Other Duties or Safeguards.-- Notwithstanding 
     any other provision of law, during the period described in 
     subsection (c), articles of infant formula base powder that 
     are classifiable under subheading 9903.19.23 of the HTS, as 
     added by the amendment made by subsection (a), shall not be 
     subject to any additional safeguard duties that may be 
     imposed under subchapter IV of chapter 99 of the HTS.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from 
Washington (Ms. DelBene) and the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Smith) 
each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Washington.

                             General Leave

  Ms. DelBENE. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members 
may have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks 
and include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Washington?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. DelBENE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Madam Speaker, I rise today to address the ongoing baby formula 
crisis and urge my colleagues to support the Bulk Infant Formula to 
Retail Shelves Act.
  I raised two kids, and I know the first months of parenthood are 
tiring and stressful, even in the best of circumstances. But families 
across the country remain in a challenging position as they try to find 
formula that they need to feed their babies.
  Nationally, 61 percent of formula shelves are still empty. In my home 
State of Washington, it has been hit harder, with 67 percent of formula 
shelves empty. While that is an improvement from the May nationwide 
high of 86 percent, we in Congress have an obligation to do more.
  Part of the improvement we have seen over the last few months can be 
attributed to legislation that I led with Chairman Blumenauer, Ranking 
Member Adrian Smith, and my Ways and Means colleagues back in July that 
lifted tariffs on imported baby formula. This Chamber and the Senate 
passed the legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support.
  There are still more actions, though, that Congress can take to 
support families, and that is what this legislation that we will vote 
on today will do.
  Consider what this legislation would mean to parents. Jessie is a mom 
in my district who has been struggling to find formula for her 7-month-
old daughter, Amara. She is not one to ask for help often, but when she 
was running low on her last can, Jessie joined a local social media 
group where other parents would post where they saw formula on the 
shelves. She downloaded an app that would notify her when more cans 
were available and made backup plans for donated breast milk if it came 
to that.
  Jessie was able to find formula in the end but realizes that she is 
one of the lucky parents who had the means and the network to support 
her daughter. Not all parents have these resources.
  The Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act would boost domestic 
baby formula production and get more product on our shelves. It would 
do so by lifting tariffs through the end of the year on safe imported 
base powder. This is a key component filled with essential proteins, 
fats, and carbohydrates that are mixed with other nutrients and 
ingredients to make the formula that parents buy on store shelves or 
  Lifting these tariffs and getting more formula on physical shelves 
would be especially helpful for families participating in the WIC 
program, the Women, Infants, and Children program.
  For the WIC program, parents must use those resources in brick-and-
mortar retail stores, and they can't be used for online purchases 
currently. About half of the baby formula purchased in the United 
States is purchased through WIC.
  This legislation has strong bipartisan support from the leadership of 
the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, Chair Blumenauer, Ranking 
Member Adrian Smith, and my subcommittee colleagues, Representatives   
John Larson,  Dan Kildee, and Drew Ferguson. In the Senate, we are 
supported by Senators Mike Lee, Bob Menendez, Todd Young, and Mike 
  Families need our help, and they need it now. Madam Speaker, I urge 
my colleagues to support this bill with the same speed and bipartisan 
force as they did 2 months ago. We worked hand in hand with our Senate 
partners to ensure that this measure would pass immediately. We can't 
delay while parents are struggling to feed their children.
  Madam Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and 
I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. SMITH of Nebraska. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of the Bulk Infant Formula to 
Retail Shelves Act. I appreciate my colleague, Suzan DelBene, for 
working together to help lead this bipartisan effort to further address 
our Nation's ongoing infant formula shortage.
  It is very disappointing that the administration knew of this looming 
shortage for months, actually, before they developed a strategy. So 
here we are, 9 months into the crisis, and as yet, as of August, 30 
percent of our Nation's baby formula was out of stock nationally for 6 
weeks in a row. This is simply unacceptable.
  I am glad that we can work together to correct this. We must use 
every tool available to increase domestic manufacturing, including 
responsibly importing FDA-approved base powder used to manufacture 
formula when needed.
  The Bulk Infant Formula to Retail Shelves Act builds on the 
bipartisan work done in the Formula Act and supports domestic 
manufacturing by allowing formula base powder to be imported duty-free 
through the end of the year.

[[Page H8266]]

  I will continue to work with my colleagues on the Ways and Means 
Committee to use trade tools to strengthen critical supply chains like 
infant formula.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. DelBENE. Madam Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Connecticut (Mr. Larson), who has been a leader on this issue and who 
is an original cosponsor of this legislation.
  Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Madam Speaker, I thank my colleagues Earl 
Blumenauer, Adrian Smith,  Dan Kildee, and Drew Ferguson for their work 
on this bill. I especially thank Congresswoman DelBene for her tireless 
leadership in advocating for this issue and bringing Members together 
in a bipartisan manner.

  For our listeners out there, that isn't as rare a thing as one might 
think. But when you have exceptional leadership, and when you have the 
grandmother-to-be of an infant on the way, you have a sense of urgency 
that this Congress and this Nation desperately needs.
  I can't thank her enough for her leadership on this, as well as my 
colleagues across the aisle, because we all know that increasing access 
and lowering costs for importing base powder is especially important, 
as Congresswoman DelBene described, for WIC families because we know 
that means lower costs for working families.
  This is a prime example of what can happen when we all work together 
for the common good. Nothing could be more important than making sure 
that Suzan DelBene's future grandchild has appropriate baby formula.
  Mr. SMITH of Nebraska. Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my 
  Ms. DelBENE. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Oregon (Mr. Blumenauer), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade who 
has been an incredible leader on this issue and on the Formula Act that 
we passed in July.
  Mr. BLUMENAUER. Madam Speaker, is she declaring a conflict of 
interest on this legislation? Tongue-in-cheek. Excuse me.
  We are all excited, awaiting the good news in terms of her family, 
and I think it is appropriate that we have this legislation on the 
floor today to help families all across the country.
  The complexity that we found out in terms of the infant formula 
supply leaves us all scratching our heads in terms of all these 
  I appreciate Congresswoman DelBene early zeroing in on this, 
mobilizing support, helping refine legislation, and enabling us to act 
very quickly.
  This is an area that I hope that we will be able to have further 
conversations because I think there are issues in terms of healthcare 
supply chain and industrial policy.
  It isn't, I think, quite so easy to snap our fingers and make sure 
that we are protecting this because it is a complicated matter. I know 
that at times, there are differences in terms of how much we should be 
interfering with the private sector and what they do.
  I think this might be an area that we can work together to figure out 
ways that we can hit the appropriate balance, meet the need, not be too 
intrusive, but make sure we are not behind the curve.
  The administration and Congress has made significant progress in this 
crisis, invoking the Defense Production Act, increasing the flexibility 
of WIC as was referenced, easing restrictions on imports to supply 
chain shortages, and enacting our Formula Act to temporarily suspend 
tariffs on infant formula.
  We are expanding that work today to include formula base powder 
imports. Like finish formula, infant formula base powder imports face a 
substantial tariff when imported at a time when families need all the 
help they can get.
  I don't want to take undue time, but I just want to commend our team 
working together, sending the appropriate signal, and hope it provides 
a foundation for other areas where we might be able to look for ways to 
thread that needle to be able to have partnerships with the private 
sector and with government to be able to make sure that we deal with 
these fragile supply chains.
  One of the things the pandemic has demonstrated is how fragile our 
supply chains are. The notion, with so many industries dealing with 
just in time, puts them in a situation where the supply chain is so 
brittle that it produces results that horrify us all, like dumping milk 
on the ground because we couldn't get it to producers.
  So I hope it leads to a broader conversation about things we can do 
to ease the pressures on supply chains and that this is an area where 
we can continue to work together and make a difference.

                              {time}  1345

  Mr. SMITH of Nebraska. Madam Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity 
that we can work together to remove barriers to getting nutrition to 
especially young children. As a father of pretty young kids, I can 
appreciate the fact that it is pretty scary for families not being able 
to find formula when they previously could.
  I think that when we talk about supply chains, as was discussed as 
well, we have got a lot of work to do ahead of us, and that we can 
hopefully bring about more affordable results for the American people.
  Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Ms. DelBENE. Madam Speaker, I thank the ranking member for all of his 
support on this legislation. It is something that will impact families 
across the country right away. It not only will help to make baby 
formula more available, but also to reduce the cost of that formula, 
and, in particular, help the families who are using WIC across the 
  Madam Speaker, I appreciate the strong bipartisan support in the 
House and the Senate, and it is important for us to move quickly. I 
urge my colleagues to support this legislation, and I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Madam Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 8982, which 
amends the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to suspend tariffs on the imports 
of formula base powders that are used to manufacture infant formula in 
the United States.
  The reason why this bill is so important can best be demonstrated by 
conversations that I had at the height of the baby formula shortage 
earlier this year.
  This past spring, 40 percent of baby formula stock that is normally 
available nationwide was not available in stores.
  Practically the entire country was alarmed at this because so many 
American families rely on baby formula, and even among those who don't, 
virtually every American knows some family with a young child.
  As the founder and Chair of the Congressional Children's Caucus, the 
needs of women, families, and children are my consistent priority, and 
the unavailability of baby formula amounted to a crisis.
  To address the shortage, in May, I hosted a baby formula give-a-way 
event in my TX-18th district of Houston.
  At the event, I witnessed first-hand the struggles faced by mothers 
in need. Constituents came to me with open arms and gratitude for the 
opportunity to receive baby formula that they couldn't find in stores.
  Many families described the stress and anxiety of not being able to 
properly nourish their infant children since baby formula was nowhere 
to be found locally or online.
  Infants are put at risk of physical and mental impairment without 
proper nourishment.
   The legislation we are voting on today will dramatically increase 
the availability of formula so that children are no longer at risk of 
these problems.
  By suspending tariffs on base powders for infant formula this bill 
would enable us to boost the domestic production that is necessary to 
get infant formula back on our shelves in sufficient quantity 
   The renewed, consistent output and distribution of baby formula 
would ameliorate the nationwide short supply of these essential 
products that was amplified by pandemic-related supply chain issues.
  In response to these shortages, the Food and Drug Administration 
exercised selective enforcement of base formula regulations to amend 
the importation of safe infant formula from other countries.
  Earlier this year, Congress passed the Formula Act, which lifted 
steep tariffs on baby formula until the end of this year.
  While this alleviated the immediate shortage and parents began to 
find baby formula in stores, the Formula Act only suspended tariffs on 
infant formula itself and not the ingredients necessary to make it,
  There are still high tariffs on infant formula base powders, a key 
foundational component necessary for making baby formula products.

[[Page H8267]]

  This is an issue that needs to be addressed now because if we do not 
have the key components that are needed to make infant formula, then 
the current tariff suspensions we have are of no use in the long run.
  It is imperative that we eliminate any obstacles in the way of 
getting formula back onto the shelves and in the hands of parents 
  Tariffs are set in place to protect our trade but with the health of 
our country's infants at risk, ensuring that baby formula is easily and 
consistently available in stores must always remain a priority.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion by the 
gentlewoman from Washington (Ms. DelBene) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the bill, H.R. 8982.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.