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Post Politics Now Biden administration acts to address baby formula shortage as parents scramble

Biden, arrives with other leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for a group photo on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (Oliver Contreras/for The Washington Post)
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Today, President Biden and his administration announced steps they are taking to combat the growing baby formula shortage in the country that is leaving store shelves empty and parents crowdsourcing where there is available product.

Among the changes? Urging manufacturers to simplify product offerings to increase the scale and speed of production; having the FTC and state attorneys general go after price gougers and increase formula imports without sacrificing safety.

Biden also ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff to mark the “tragic milestone” of 1 million coronavirus deaths in the country. In a statement, Biden nudged Congress to pass a stalled $10 billion package that would boost the availability of tests, therapeutics and vaccines nationwide. According to a Washington Post tracker, the 1 million milestone will be reached this week.

Meanwhile, the committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol has subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.). The move marks a significant escalation in the committee’s efforts to obtain information related to communications with then-President Donald Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before, during and after the attack.

Your daily dashboard

  • 10:45 a.m. Eastern: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held her weekly news conference. Watch it here.
  • 3:30 p.m. Eastern: White House press secretary Jen Psaki briefed reporters. Watch here.
  • 5:30 p.m. Eastern: Biden welcomed leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to the White House for a photo and dinner.

Got a question about politics? Submit it here. At 3 p.m. weekdays, return to this space and we’ll address what’s on the mind of readers.

7:37 p.m.
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Moriah Balingit: A historic report of horrendous proportions The Interior Department this week released a report that revealing that it had identified burial sites at 53 former Indian boarding schools and had documented the deaths of 500 Indian youths at 19 schools.This historic report might not have happened were it not for Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo and the first Native American Cabinet secretary.This is a big deal for people who have been seeking acknowledgment of this ugly chapter of U.S. history, when the government took hundreds of thousands of Native American, Native Hawaiian and Native Alaskan children from their families and sent them to Indian boarding schools. They were exploited for their labor and stripped of their culture and language.The practice occurred for about 150 years, from 1819 to 1969, meaning some who attended the schools are still alive today and still bear the scars and trauma from being brutalized. For some families, it was the last time they would see their children: Some never returned home, and others died at the schools.This is just the beginning, though: The department expects to find more gravesites and estimates that “thousands, or tens of thousands” of children perished at the schools, in many cases far away from home and far away from their families.
Moriah Balingit, Reporter covering national education issues
4:19 p.m.
Headshot of Rachel Roubein
Rachel Roubein: Democrat-led states spring into action — Over the past week, there has been a spotlight on the Republican-led states readying restrictions on abortion if the Supreme Court justices overturn Roe v. Wade’s decades-old protections.But Democratic-led states have been making moves of their own. Liberal governors are trying to ensure access to the procedure doesn’t go away in their states. And they are attempting to find ways to help people travel to states that wouldn’t ban the procedure early in pregnancy.Look to Connecticut for one new approach. A new law there essentially lets the state be a “place of refuge” for those living in Republican-led states limiting the procedure. The thrust of the idea is to combat any potential laws that could be used to sue providers that help an out-of-state patient access abortion.Other states are working to expand access.For instance: Maryland, Washington and Connecticut moved to allow more providers to perform abortions. Maryland and California passed bills requiring most insurance plans to cover the entire cost of the procedure. New Jersey and Colorado passed legislation codifying Roe into state law, and in Vermont, voters will decide in November whether to add a guaranteed right to an abortion into the state’s constitution.And some states are putting dollars behind helping patients travel for an abortion. Oregon established a $15 million fund to expand access to the procedure in the state, particularly aimed at those traveling from Idaho.
Rachel Roubein, National health-care reporter and author of The Health 202
4:02 p.m.
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Jacob Bogage: Midterm politics overshadow postal probe — As the House Oversight Committee opens an investigation into the U.S. Postal Service’s $11.3 billion procurement of gas-guzzling delivery trucks, November’s midterm elections loom.Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, controversial on the Hill for his cost-cutting measures and past prolific GOP fundraising, mended his relationship with some House Democrats to push through a bipartisan financial restructuring of his agency earlier this year. Then, less than a month after the Senate passed the legislation, DeJoy solidified his agency’s plan to purchase a fleet of 90 percent gas-powered trucks and 10 percent electric vehicles, snubbing Biden’s ambitious climate goals.Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney’s (D-N.Y.) inquiry now reignites some of that tension. The Postal Service has previously refused to hand over confidential records and data sources on how it selected the trucks after a competitive seven-year procurement process; insiders say it is unlikely to do so without a congressional subpoena. And even then, the agency could drag its feet to comply, hoping for Republicans to win control of the House in the midterms and quash the investigation.When Democrats previously held a hearing to discuss the Postal Service’s fleet — including proposals to set aside billions of dollars in funding for electric trucks — ranking Republican Rep. James Comer (Ky.) invited Hunter Biden to testify, saying he had expertise in rare-earth minerals necessary for vehicle batteries. The president’s son did not attend.
Jacob Bogage, Business reporter
3:05 p.m.
Headshot of Taylor Telford
Taylor Telford: Report shows top players in meat processing industry, Trump officials worked to keep plants open — In the pandemic’s first wave, industry officials lobbied aggressively and helped to draft the executive order that forced workers to stay on the job despite significant risk.These allegations were put forth in a new bipartisan report from the House subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, the result of a months-long investigation into the meat industry’s actions in the pandemic:Top meatpacking companies and USDA successfully lobbied to dissuade workers from staying home or quitting, according to the report, justifying their arguments with claims of an impending meat shortage.The five largest meatpacking companies — Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods, JBS USA, Cargill and National Beef — had 269 employees die of covid and at least 59,000 sickened in the first year of the pandemic.
Taylor Telford, Reporter covering national and breaking news
2:06 p.m.
Headshot of Tyler Pager
Tyler Pager: Countering China returns to Biden’s agenda — Biden is hosting a special summit this week between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, kicking off a two-week stretch of enhanced engagement with Asian leaders.Next week, Biden will head to Japan and South Korea for bilateral meetings.The president has long wanted to focus on building stronger ties in Asia as part of a strategy to counter China’s growing influence. But for much of his presidency, Biden has been occupied by other foreign policy crises, namely the withdrawal from Afghanistan and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Though Russia’s war is expected to be on the agenda, U.S. officials have said countering China and North Korea will be top priorities.
Tyler Pager, White House reporter