This week: House targets baby food shortage, Senate seeks to shift aid to Ukraine
The House will pass legislation this week to address the national infant formula shortage, as Republicans hammer the Biden administration on the issue.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said Friday the House will pass a pair of bills this week to address shortages, which have left parents and guardians scrambling to find food for their infants.
Across the Capitol, senators will push through nearly $40 billion in funding for Ukraine, delayed last week after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blocked a vote on a bipartisan agreement.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have set May 19 as the day the funding is needed if the United States is to “continue our security assistance at the current pace.”
On Tuesday, the two chambers are due to welcome Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the Capitol, where he will take part in a joint meeting.
And the subpoenas issued last week to five sitting lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), by the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, continue to reverberate throughout Washington, as the panel waits for answers.
Pelosi announced in a letter to colleagues on Friday that the House would pass a bill granting emergency authority to the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children – called the WIC program.
According to the Food and Nutrition Service, the program provides states with federal grants for additional food and nutrition education for low-income women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as postpartum women who are not breastfeeding.
Pelosi said giving the program emergency authority will help address the supply chain issue and recalls affecting the infant formula industry, and allow the federal government to relax some non-safety related regulations. .
“Ensuring that every precious baby gets the nutrition they need is a matter of the baby’s life and development,” she wrote in her letter.
“While it is essential that we ensure this problem does not happen again, at the moment babies are crying and babies are hungry – so we must take urgent action to protect their health and well-being” , she added.
The shortage of infant formula continues, according to an analysis by retail tracking firm Datasembly, which found that from the week starting April 24, the percentage out of stock for the product had reached 40 %.
Republicans have seized on the shortage, slamming the Biden administration for bare shelves and accusing congressional Democrats of putting the shortage on the back burner.
In addition to a bill giving the WIC program emergency authority, the House is also expected to work on an additional emergency appropriation that Pelosi says will “immediately address the infant formula shortage.”
The president said Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) plans to cut additional spending to the floor.
January 6 subpoenas
The Jan. 6 select committee sent shockwaves across Washington on Thursday when it issued subpoenas to McCarthy and four other GOP lawmakers seeking testimony as part of its investigation into the deadly 2021 riot. after refusing to appear voluntarily.
Representatives Scott Perry (R-Pa.), Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Andy Biggs (R-Arizona) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) also received subpoenas.
While the testimonial requests have been out for days now, none of the five lawmakers have indicated how they plan to proceed with this unprecedented request.
Members of the Jan. 6 panel hope lawmakers will comply with the inquiry request — though Republicans call the committee corrupt — though they also say they’re willing to use a menu of options to application, including criminal contempt, if the lawmakers block the application.
“Members of Congress are citizens of the United States, so those would be the same options available to us in general,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a panel member of the 6 january. .
He said the committee had ‘every option open to us, or someone like Steve Bannon or Mark Meadows’ – referring to the two former Trump administration officials the committee has previously held in contempt criminal – “then additional options because they are members of Congress.
This week, senators will seek to pass the $39.8 billion funding package approved by the House for Ukraine after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) delayed proceedings last week.
Paul refused to commit to a deal that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered last week that would have triggered a vote Thursday on funding.
Paul wanted to add language to the bill that would have increased the role of an inspector general from Afghanistan to also oversee funds from Ukraine, and rejected a proposal by Schumer and McConnell to vote on it as a separate amendment.
By delaying passage of the Ukrainian bill, Paul also put the chamber at risk of missing a deadline set by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken for funding last week.
In a letter to House and Senate leaders, senior administration officials asked Congress to pass the supplement by May 19 if the United States plans to “continue our security assistance at the current rate”.
Despite Paul’s delay, however, McConnell told reporters on a Sunday press call that he believed the Senate would introduce a motion to proceed with the aid package on Monday and then approve the supplement on Wednesday.
The House approved the funding in a 368-57 vote last week. Asked about the large number of GOP “no” votes, McConnell said, “I think it’s important for the United States to help, important for the free world to help, important for Ukrainians to win, and I hope that few members of my party will. choose to politicize this issue.
Greek Prime Minister
House and Senate lawmakers are expected to welcome Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the Capitol on Tuesday, after Pelosi invited him last month to speak at a joint meeting of Congress.
In a letter, the president said, “The unshakable bond between the United States and Greece is firmly rooted in our history and shared values.”
“As our world faces a pivotal moment in the struggle between the forces of democracy and autocracy, the transatlantic alliance remains vital to the future of freedom around the world,” she wrote. . “Congress and our country look forward to hearing your message of democratic values as we continue to strengthen our partnership, strengthen security and freedom around the world, and build a better future for our children.”
Pelosi noted that the visit will mark a belated commemoration of Greece’s bicentenary after it was delayed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
House leaders said Sunday that lawmakers should be seated on the floor of the House no later than 10:30 a.m. Tuesday for the joint meeting with Mitsotakis.
The Greek Prime Minister is due to meet President Biden on Monday.
Mitsotakis’ visit to the United States follows Greece’s five-year extension of its bilateral military agreement with the United States, according to the Associated Press. The agreement will allow the US military to continue access to three bases in mainland Greece.