For Immediate Release
May 31, 2022
Patty Murray’s 78 Days Of Silence
PASCO, WA – As the out of stock baby formula supply crisis reached 70% nationwide, we must hold our elected officials accountable for their roles in the emergency facing Washington families.
As Chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has oversight over the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Murray could have used her position to hold hearings, hold press conferences, and demand the FDA take action to get out front before supply issues became a supply crisis. Murray could have also worked with the private sector to incentivize other manufacturers to increase production to fill the void. However, Murray did nothing.
Below is a timeline of Murray’s failure to represent the needs of Washington families in this emergency:
September 20, 2021: In a report to the FDA, an infant that used formula manufactured by Abbott became ill with a bacterial infection. (NBC News, “Federal Government Uses Defense Production Act For the Third Time This Week,” May 27, 2022)
October 21, 2021: A whistleblower sent the FDA a letter outlining violations and falsified records at the Abbott formula plant. (NBC News, “Federal Government Uses Defense Production Act For the Third Time This Week,” May 27, 2022)
January 31, 2022: The FDA investigates the allegations at the Abbott facility and found evidence of bacteria in the infant formula. (NBC News, “Federal Government Uses Defense Production Act For the Third Time This Week,” May 27, 2022)
February 17, 2022: Abbott issues a recall of its formula. (NBC News, “Federal Government Uses Defense Production Act For the Third Time This Week,” May 27, 2022)
February 24, 2022: Four months after the whistleblower report, nearly a month after the FDA started its investigation, and a full week after the recall was made, Senators Murray and Bob Casey (D-PA) finally sent a letter to the FDA expressing concern over the contamination of baby formula at Abbott. However, contrary to Murray’s public statements since, their letter DID NOT address the likely prospect of a formula supply shortage and contingency plans to replenish supplies on store shelves. (U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Press Release, “Murray, Casey Demand Answers Following Abbott Recall of Contaminated Infant Formula,” February 24, 2022).
May 13, 2022: After 78 days of silence following her initial letter to the FDA and after weeks of national headlines and outrage over the growing baby formula crisis, Murray finally addresses the emergency, calling for formula manufacturers to address the supply shortage. Over this 78 day period, several of Murray’s Democratic colleagues, including members of her own HELP Committee, expressed concerns over the supplies of baby formula. Murray remained silent until May 13th. (U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Press Release, “Murray, Casey, Democrats Push Infant Formula Manufacturers To Address Crisis, Get Formula On Shelves ASAP,” May 13, 2022)
As a leader in the United States Senate, it is Patty Murray’s job to be forward thinking and address the critical issues facing her constituents. Murray could have spoken out, held hearings, and held the FDA accountable – ensuring that the formula crisis was averted. Murray could have worked with formula manufacturers to ensure any void in formula supply was filled. But over her 78 days of silence, Patty Murray found more time to speak out on the issue of eliminating Daylight Savings Time (once) than she did about the supply of baby formula in America (zero).
In her 78 days of silence, Patty Murray failed Washington families, Washington moms, and Washington children when they needed her most.