Texas Lawmaker Votes Against Lifting Tax On Baby Formula
On Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was the only member of the House to vote against a bill that would temporarily suspend tariffs for imported baby formula.
Rep. Gohmert explained his opposition in a speech on the House floor, saying that this vote was “thrown upon” Republicans at the last minute. “It seems like this bill was a rush to get done without properly considering what this would mean,” he said.
Although another lawmaker, Rep. Rick Allen (R-Ga.) also voted against the bill, his spokesperson told Axios hours later that his opposition had been an accident. Rep. Allen filed documentation to switch his vote in support of the bill formally.
This bill aims to help families dealing with the massive baby formula shortage that has been plaguing the United States for months. According to the Wall Street Journal, 30% of powdered baby formula products were out of stock in U.S. stores during the week ending on July 3, dropping to the lowest level of availability to access the products this year.
Shockingly, this was not the first time Rep. Gohmert has opposed legislation regarding baby formula. In May, the Texas lawmaker joined deep Republican opposition, voting against the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, which allowed the FDA to allocate $28 million of emergency funds to address the shortage. The House ultimately passed the bill.
Rep. Gohmert was also only one of nine Republicans to have voted against the Access to Baby Formula Act, which aimed to ease restrictions on the baby formula products that individuals using the WIC federal assistance program are able to buy. The Senate unanimously passed the bill before president Joe Biden signed it into law.
“The Senate has just passed legislation to help ease the terrible nightmare parents are facing trying to find baby formula for their kids,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “It’s rare that we have unanimity in the Senate on important measures, and I wish we had more. But this is one of these important issues and I’m glad we’re acting with one voice.”
In May, Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to accelerate baby formula production and allow the U.S. to import supplies from foreign manufacturers.
The baby formula shortage was in part caused by a turbulent series of events involving a major producer, Abbott Nutrition. Its Michigan plant shut down and halted production in February, due to contamination concerns. By May, the plant reopened–but only for two short weeks, as it was forced to close again when it was flooded by severe storms.