House Passes a Bill to Temporarily Suspend Tariffs on Imported Baby Formula

On Friday, the House passed a bill temporarily suspending tariffs on baby formula imports in an effort to help parents and families as formula shortages continue in the United States. 

The legislation, passed by a 421-2 vote, follows several lawsuits against infant formula manufacturers, public inquiry by the FTC and steps by the FDA to address the ongoing formula shortage. The shortage can be attributed in part to the closure of an Abbott Nutrition manufacturing plant for several months after infants developed health issues from its formula. Subsequently, several lawsuits were issued against Abbott Labs over allegedly dangerous infant formula including a class action lawsuit and a lawsuit by the United States Department of Justice. 

The bill intends to suspend tariffs on imports of baby formula until the end of December through an amendment to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. Suzan DelBene, the sponsor of the bill, states that it will decrease the cost of baby formula brought into the United States in an effort to decrease the burden on American parents and families. 

Additionally, the Department of Health and Human Services announced “Operation Fly Formula” in coordination with the USDA and the General Service Administration to import infant formula from other countries that meet the United States’s health and safety standards. Operation Fly Formula will have completed 53 flights and imported more than 61 million eight-ounce bottle equivalents of infant formula by July 24. 

This week alone, five flights are scheduled to import formula from Singapore, Switzerland, Australia and the United Kingdom as part of Operation Fly Formula. The five flights are projected to import more than 6.8 million eight-ounce bottle equivalents of infant formula to the United States.