Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo admitted on Sunday that she only learned about the ongoing shortage of baby formula in April.
Mrs. Raimondo told CNN’s “State of the Union” that she was not directly involved in the White House’s response to the crisis.
“I first learned about it a couple of months ago … probably April,” she said. “I’m not involved in the administration’s response here, I should say.”
The remarks quickly sparked an outcry from Republican lawmakers, who questioned why a key member of President Biden’s Cabinet was left unaware.
“Is it really possible that the secretary of commerce is not involved in the admin’s response to a baby formula shortage driven by ongoing supply chain issues they’ve refused to solve,” said Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican. “Unfortunately, yes. That’s how incompetent Joe Biden is.”
The baby formula shortage reared its head in February after the Food and Drug Administration shuttered a key production site over fears it was contaminated by bacteria deadly to infants. The closure was followed up by a nationwide recall of baby formula produced at the facility.
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Abbott Laboratories, the company that ran the facility, controls roughly 40% of the market when it comes to baby formula. The shuttering of one of its key plants resulted in widespread shortages, with 73% of baby products being out of stock across the country in late May.
Mr. Biden admitted recently he, too, was unaware of the gravity of the situation until early April, despite retailers sounding the alarm for months.
“I became aware of this problem sometime after April — or in early April — about how intense it was,” said the president. “And so we did everything in our power from that point on.”
White House officials say, however, they have been working to alleviate the shortage since at least the end of February.