Put ‘baby formula back on the shelves for American kids’: Is Rep. Cammack right about border ‘stockpiling’?

Mark Duncan / AP

Fact Box

  • Kat Cammack is a Republican congressional Representative from Florida’s 3rd district, elected to the House of Representatives on November 3, 2021. 
  • In February 2022, the FDA announced a recall of particular baby formulas produced by the Abbott facility in Michigan following several reported bacterial infections, hospitalizations, and the death of two infants. 
  • On May 11, 2022, Cammack tweeted two pictures of shelves, one featuring a stocked shelf of baby formula at a border processing center while the other was sparsely stocked, saying “Formula is scarce. This is what America last looks like.” She then urged constituents “demand that the administration take action on putting the baby formula back on the shelves for American kids.”
  • Jen Psaki responded to questions about the US baby formula shortage on May 13, saying, “we have not waited to take action,” and the White House has been working to address the problem for months ensuring “there is greater supply—consistent supply on the shelves as long as possible.” 
  • The Flores Settlement Agreement, which originated out of a class action lawsuit settled under President Clinton’s DOJ in 1997, requires the federal government to provide food, water, and other supplies to migrant children.
  • 234,088 southern border migrant encounters have occurred as of April 2022, “surpassing all previous records over the past century.”

Luke (Yes)

While there is contention as to the cause of the baby formula shortage, it is undeniable that Americans across the country are suddenly facing difficulties in purchasing this once common item. Pictures of empty shelves have flooded social media, with some states reporting shortages as high as 50% and 26 states reporting shortages of at least 40%. To compound matters, photos have emerged showing pallets of baby formula and other necessities slated for detained immigrants in a border detention facility in McAllen, Texas. While it is unclear how much baby formula is being stocked at these facilities, the border patrol agent who leaked the photos stated that the pictures were of a recent shipment having arrived at the border detention facility. 

According to the standards set by the federal agency, US Customs and Border Protection must provide detained children with adequate care and necessary supplies. However, in times of crisis, the United States government has bent and even broken the rules to ensure the best outcome for the American people, such as when the Trump administration directed FEMA to seize N-95 masks for federal use. Ultimately, the primary directive of the United States government is outlined in the Preamble to the United States Constitution. That is, the purpose of the United States to protect, serve, and answer to 'We the People.' 

As it is within the power of the federal government to temporarily halt its own border detention standards, and because the primary function of the federal government is to serve the American people, Representative Cammack was right to criticize the Biden administration for sending any amount of baby formula for border detainees while American households are suffering under the shortage.

Siam (No)

Rep. Cammack recently asserted there are stockpiles of baby formula being hoarded at southern border facilities, implying the Biden Administration is implementing an 'American last' agenda favoring migrants over American citizens. This is wholly inaccurate. There is no 'stockpiling' of baby formula at migrant detention centers. There is, however, the law. Under the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, the government is required to send necessities for detained children. 

Cammack said in another Fox interview that 'not only was there stocked warehouses, but there were multiple stocked warehouses that have been not only filled with baby formula, diapers, wipes and clothing, but they have been doing this for months and there's more en route.' She conveniently leaves out how the Flores federal law, which requires supplies be provided for migrants at detention centers, would naturally result in multiple warehouses being stocked. This is especially necessary considering the increased rate of migration happening in recent years. 

Despite Cammack naming this shortage 'Biden's formula crisis,' there is no proof the government has gone out of its way to send extra supplies to the border, purposefully neglecting the American people. Likewise, compared to the other supplies, the amount of baby food at the border is minuscule. They would not feed a large population even in El Paso, let alone the entire U.S., which Cammack admitted, saying, 'these warehouses' contents would do little to relieve the incredible shortage.' Supply chain issues, product recalls, and heightened inflation are the real cause behind the nationwide baby formula shortage, not because of stockpiles at the border. By the end of April 2022, nearly 40% of baby formula products were out of stock, and the government was fully aware of the problem.

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