Austin, Texas – Republicans seeking to regain control of Congress have already sharpened a message accusing Democrats of high inflation, expensive gas, migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, and violent crimes in some cities.

But Republican leaders this week touched on an issue they hope could be even more effective: to tie President Joe Biden to a shortage of baby formula.

Parents suddenly stumble upon bare shelves in supermarkets and pharmacies in part due to constant supply disruptions and the recent security recall. But in an election year that has become difficult for Democrats, Republicans feel the shortcoming may prove to be a particularly tangible way to argue that Biden is incapable of resolving the challenges facing the United States quickly.

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“This is not a third world country,” said Eliza Stefanic, a Republican MP from New York and chair of the Republican Conference of the House of Representatives. “This should never happen in the United States.”

The administration has sometimes been slow to respond to sudden political threats, perhaps primarily when signs of inflation began to emerge last year. The White House appears determined not to repeat the mistake by announcing on Friday that formula maker Abbott Laboratories has pledged to give discounts until August for a food-coupon-like program that helps women, babies and children called WIC.

Biden insisted that “we are not working on anything more urgent” than eliminating the shortcoming.

Asked if his administration had responded as quickly as it should have, Biden replied: “If we had read our minds better, I guess we could. But we moved as fast as the problem became apparent. ”

But the White House defense illustrates how pointing fingers at the Biden administration has already spread widely among Republicans in Washington, on television and on social media. This is a new challenge for the Republican Party and a way to reach out to families at a time when Democrats believe outrage over the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court may suspend the right to abortion could push women and other key voters and prevent at least reduce the Republican wave in November.

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The Republican press in full court has linked the lack of a formula to the growing number of migrants arriving in the U.S. – one of the biggest challenges they have sought to put at the feet of the unpopular president. On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Kat Kemmack, Florida, shared a picture of racks at the U.S. Border Patrol in Texas, which showed one shelf with four boxes full of containers for baby formula, and another half-dozen containers for baby formula. on that shelf.

On Thursday, Kemmak said a border patrol sent her a picture. The AP did not independently verify the authenticity of the photo and when exactly it was taken. Some conservative experts and newsrooms have since released even more serious photo stories, with some claiming they show Biden sending “thousands” of baby mix pallets to the border while parents in the U.S. try to find the mix. . Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the images “shameful.”

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White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Friday that the border patrol “complies with the law”, which requires the government to provide adequate nutrition, including a mixture for children under the age of one who are detained at the border.

However, political advisers of the Republican Party call it a ready-made problem that resonates with voters.

“It’s just another one of those consumer issues that pops up from time to time and that’s very easy to understand,” said Matt Makavyak, a Republican strategist from Texas. “They need to find a solution and they need to do it soon.”

In Washington, lawmakers are responding to the deficit by scheduling hearings and requesting information from the FDA and formula makers as part of extensive investigations. Democratic leaders of the House Oversight and Reform Committee have written to formula makers seeking information that includes what steps they are taking to increase supplies and prevent price increases.

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“The lack of a national mix poses a threat to the health and economic security of infants and families in communities across the country – especially those on lower incomes who have historically experienced health inequalities, including food security,” the letter to the president said. Chris Calamari. Abbott Nutrition.

The letter requests all documents related to the closure of the Abbott Nutrition plant in Sturgis, Michigan. Abbott Nutrition recalled several major brands of the powder mixture and closed the factory when federal officials began investigating four infants who suffered bacterial infections after using the mixture from that facility.

Abbott is one of the few companies that produce the vast majority of American formulas, so their recall has destroyed a large market segment.

Democrats see the deficit as an example of how Americans are harmed when several large companies control the market. But, like inflation or high gas prices, their task is to explain to society the factors that contribute.

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Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, one of the most vulnerable Democrats to be re-elected this year, said supply chain problems with formulas, microchips, gasoline and other products have complex roots, many of which date back to the pandemic.

“We in Congress need to address these issues, try to figure out where to go, how to overcome these bottlenecks in the supply chain,” Kelly said. “But not because of the election. After all, it affects people’s lives. “

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Associated Press Writers Jonathan J. Cooper of Phoenix and Joshua Boak, Kevin Frecking and Amanda Zaitz of Washington contributed to this report.

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