Patty Murray’s Baby Formula Crisis

For Immediate Release

June 2, 2022


Patty Murray’s Baby Formula Crisis

PASCO, WA – The Smiley for Washington campaign issued the following statement as further details make it clear that the baby formula crisis sits at the feet of Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).

As reported by CNN, formula manufacturers knew immediately how bad the shortage could become following the shutdown of the Abbott baby formula plant. This shocking revelation was damning for Murray, who as Chairwoman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee, has oversight over the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Despite knowing about the Abbott plant closure for nearly three months, Murray sat silent, did nothing about the oncoming shortage – abdicating her responsibilities as a United States Senator.

Tiffany Smiley said: “I don’t know what Patty Murray was doing, but it certainly wasn’t her job. Patty Murray did nothing to mitigate the oncoming baby formula shortage, even though she has the biggest healthcare megaphone in America. Had she simply asked about the impact of the Abbott plant’s shutdown, we all would have known. Precautions could have been taken. Plans could have been made. But Patty Murray did nothing. Senator, the blame for this crisis sits at your feet.”

Murray has rested the defense of her feckless response to the catastrophic baby formula shortage on a letter she wrote the FDA on February 24th. The text of that February letter tells a very different story than the one spun by Murray today, though. Murray’s letter focused on contamination of baby formula; however, nowhere in her letter does Murray address the potential shortage of baby formula as a result of this recall and nowhere in her letter does Murray ask the company – or the FDA – for contingencies in getting baby formula to the 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).

78 days passed as Murray sat silent, despite having the loudest healthcare megaphone in the country as HELP Committee Chair. It was not until May 13th that Murray called for formula manufacturers to address this crisis (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). By then, it was too late for thousands of Washington families, and millions more across the country.

The fact is that Patty Murray took her eye off the ball. During her 78 days of silence, Murray issued more public statements on ending Daylight Savings Time (one) than she did on the baby formula crisis (zero). She could have used her position to mitigate the shortage by pushing the FDA to relax regulations, incentivize the other manufacturers to increase production, and forcing the FDA to help the Abbott plant re-open faster. But Patty Murray did nothing.

Had Patty Murray simply asked about the impact the shuttering of the Abbott plant would have on the baby formula supply, the nation could have begun preparation to fill the oncoming void in supply. But Murray didn’t, she was silent… for 78 days… and now Washington families are reaping the consequences.

When will Patty Murray be held accountable for the crisis?

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