HELP Committee Considers Bipartisan Health and Retirement Bills

Murkowski Offers Amendments to Address Baby Formula Shortage, Tribal Retirement Parity

This week Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, of which U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is a senior member, considered and advanced five bipartisan health and retirement bills. This includes S. 4348, Food and Drug Administration Safety and Landmark Advancements (FDASLA) Act, a bill to reauthorize the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) prescription drug, generic drug, biosimilar, and medical device user fee programs, which fund these critical FDA activities. Another measure the HELP Committee considered was a retirement package, S. 4353, the Retirement Improvement and Savings Enhancement to Supplement Healthy Investments for the Nest Egg (RISE & SHINE) Act, legislation which contains numerous provisions to create additional protections for retirement savers, bolster personal and retirement savings, and expands access to employer-provided retirement plans through multiple employer plans. The bills advanced out of Committee and now head to the full Senate for consideration.

Murkowski successfully included amendments to the FDASLA Act to address the nationwide baby formula shortage. Her amendments will increase Americans’ access to infant formula by allowing people and businesses to import up to a three-month supply of formula and authorizing the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to waive infant formula import requirements.

In the RISE & SHINE Act, Murkowski included an amendment to provide parity for Tribal courts and State courts, and restore the sovereignty of Tribal courts.

S. 4348, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Landmark Advancements (FDASLA) Act

Senator Murkowski’s Importation of Personal Use amendment permits, for the 90 days following enactment, a person to import up to a three-month supply of infant formula for personal use from Canada, the EU, or any country the Secretary determines to have safety standards for infant formula similar to standards under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA).

“One of the roadblocks that families have faced during the infant formula shortage is that they can’t order or import more than a couple days of supply of formula from other countries—a prohibition that makes absolutely no sense for communities in Alaska such as Hyder or Skagway, who often drive to Canada to shop at the grocery store. Families and business owners alike are hurting during this formula shortage, and red tape like this does not help,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “This amendment will remedy the issue of infant formula import rules through a commonsense solution.”

Senator Murkowski, along with Senator Cassidy, also offered a specialty formula importation amendment, authorizing the HHS Secretary to waive infant formula requirements for importing specialty infant formula from countries that the FDA determines provide similar safety assurances as in the United States.

“As the infant formula shortage continues to threaten the health of our children, we must be flexible and creative in finding solutions that still prioritize high health and safety standards,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “This is another step toward ending this baby formula shortage.”

Murkowski also supported an amendment from Senator Hassan amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the intentional addition of PFAS to food packaging, stating in January 2024.

“The hazards from being around PFAS are well known, from cancer to liver disease, and the science supporting their phase out is established. I’ve long championed the clean-up and remediation of PFAS in Alaska, which is why I submitted this amendment to ban the intentional use of PFAS in things like food wrappers and to-go containers and continue to work aggressively toward eliminating PFAS in modern, everyday products,” said Senator Murkowski. “Preventing substances like PFAS from being in contact with our food that we consume daily makes sense to the health of our families and children.”