Congressman Cleaver Talks Baby Formula Shortage & 'Big Oil' Price Gouging

Links have been edited out but here's the basics of the message from Congressman Cleaver . . .

Congress Takes Action to Address Formula Shortage, Combat Big Oil's Price Gouging

Hello Neighbor,

Since my last writing, the House of Representatives and I have been laser-focused on lowering costs for hardworking families and tackling the issues most critical to the American people. From combatting Big Oil's greed and working to lower prices at the gas pump to addressing the unacceptable infant formula shortage impacting communities across the country, I wanted to provide a brief review of some important actions Congress and I have taken during that time.
And I know that you're busy, so let's get right to it.

House Democrats and President Biden Take Action to Secure America's Baby Formula Supply Chain, Address Shortage Caused by Market Consolidation

As a father and grandfather, I know how difficult and distressing a hungry baby can be. And I have heard firsthand the stress that Missouri families are dealing with as select communities continue to face formula shortages caused by Abbott Nutrition's voluntary recall of certain formulas in February of this year. In the United States of America, no infant should go hungry because supermarkets are unable to get baby formula on shelves, and every parent should have the peace of mind knowing that the formula they buy at the grocery store is safe and healthy for their child. That's why the Biden Administration and Congress took multiple actions recently to address this unacceptable shortage.

First, I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass two pieces of legislation that will expand access to safe formulas for working class families and strengthen our formula supply chain to ensure this shortage never occurs again. H.R. 7790, the Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act, would provide $28 million in emergency funding to provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the resources needed to remediate the formula shortage and take steps to prevent it from occurring in the future. H.R. 7791, the Access to Baby Formula Act, would expand access to a wider array of baby formulas to participants of the Women, Infant, and Child (WIC) program, which accounts for approximately 50% of formula purchases nationwide. By giving families more options and providing the FDA with the funding needed to accelerate investigations and remediations, we can alleviate pressure on our formula supply chains and ensure every infant gets the nutrition they need to grow strong.

Additionally, I joined 38 other lawmakers from the House of Representatives to call on President Biden to address the growing consolidation in the baby formula industry, where just two companies account for roughly 80% of domestic baby formula production. Lack of competition in the formula industry leaves our nation vulnerable to shortages, as highly concentrated markets are often unable to absorb supply shocks, such as the closure of Abbott Nutrition's factory in February. In the letter to President Biden, my colleagues and I called on the Administration to invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA), with a focus on working with smaller regional suppliers, to build up production capacity and increase competition in the industry.

I'm happy to say that since we delivered our letter, the President has, in fact, invoked the DPA to immediately increase formula production. The President has also taken action to cut red tape and import more formula from abroad to meet the needs of American families now. As Congress and the Administration continue working to guarantee every family has access to the baby formula they need, I will continue working to ensure the situation is addressed as soon as possible.

House of Representatives Passes Legislation to Combat Big Oil's Price Gouging, Lower Prices at the Gas Pump

In the months since Vladimir Putin made the despicable decision to invade Ukraine, Missouri families have seen higher costs, both at the gas station and through the rising costs of consumer goods and commercial transportation. Sadly, many major oil and gas companies are utilizing this moment to pad their record profits and enrich shareholders at the expense of hardworking consumers. By deliberately keeping production low and ensuring prices remain exorbitantly and unnecessarily high, the seven largest oil companies have seen their profits go through the roof, while announcing stock buybacks that could total nearly $40 billion this year alone.

While it was expected that Putin's invasion of Ukraine would cause higher gas prices, it is unacceptable that giant corporations are using it as cover to hike costs further than necessary. That's why I cosponsored legislation to enact a windfall profit tax on major oil and gas companies, and why I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives last week to pass legislation that would help to bring down fuel costs for American families by cracking down on the kind of price gouging we're seeing from Big Oil companies.

H.R. 7688, the Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act, would take major steps to combat unfair business practices and prevent the exploitation of consumers by giving the Administration additional tools to prevent market manipulation and corporate price gouging. While this legislation still needs to be passed by the Senate, I am hopeful that my colleagues in the Upper Chamber will join the House of Representatives in taking action to address rising gas prices, which are harming Missouri families and a threat to our historic economic recovery from the global pandemic.


My Legislation to Spur Economic Development in Underserved Communities Passes Out of Financial Services Committee

As Chair of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance, I know too well how one of the largest barriers to community development in urban and rural America is lack of access to affordable financing. It is imperative that, as we continue to rebuild from the global pandemic, we provide communities with the resources needed to build back better than before. That's why I introduced H.R. 7733, the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program Improvement Act, which would help to stimulate greater economic development in underserved communities across the country by strengthening and making permanent the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program.

Created in 2010, the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program provides long-term capital to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) at no expense to American taxpayers. While the program's authorization lapsed in 2014, it has been extended on a bipartisan, year-by-year basis. My legislation would strengthen the CDFI Bond Guarantee Program by permanently authorizing the program--which provides greater certainty to local communities--and lowering the minimum loan threshold, allowing smaller CDFIs to access the benefits of the program and stimulate additional community development projects in rural, urban, and tribal communities across the nation.

I'm thrilled to announce that my legislation was passed out of the House Committee on Financial Services with bipartisan support last week. I'm hopeful that the bill will get a vote in the whole House of Representatives in the near future, and I will be sure to keep you informed as it makes its way through the legislative process.

Thank you for taking time away from your busy schedule to read this legislative update. As your Representative, I am working overtime to build on the historic job creation seen under President Biden, fight inflation caused by the global pandemic and Putin's invasion of Ukraine, and ensure we build back better in every community across Missouri's Fifth District. As always, if you are in need of assistance with a federal agency or wish to give an opinion on a particular issue or piece of legislation, please do not hesitate to reach out to my office.


Emanuel Cleaver, II
Member of Congress


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