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Health

Rep. Matt Gaetz

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Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are defending their vote to restrict low-income families' ability to buy formula during the ongoing shortage.

Two Republican lawmakers are upset that Congress overwhelmingly voted to ease restrictions for poor families to purchase infant formula during the current shortage, saying that allowing low-income families to obtain life-sustaining nutrition for their infants comes at the expense of more well-off families.

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) were two of just nine House Republicans who voted against the Access to Baby Formula Act, which would allow low-income families who use benefits from the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program to purchase a wider variety of sizes of formula containers. WIC has rules on the size of cans beneficiaries can purchase, which has made obtaining formula during the shortage even harder for low-income families.

Greene justified her vote against the bipartisan bill by falsely claiming it would somehow hurt families who do not receive government assistance.

"The WIC program is making it more difficult for [parents not on WIC] to buy baby formula," Greene told a right-wing cable show on Thursday.

Greene went on to lie about lower-income families who use WIC, claiming they can "buy as much baby formula" as they want while non-WIC families are limited.

WIC still has maximum monthly allowances for ounces of formula a beneficiary can purchase. The law Congress passed would simply allow WIC beneficiaries to purchase a wider variety of sizes of formula cans to get to that allowance.


Gaetz made similar false claims about the impact of eliminating some restrictions on WIC formula benefits.

"H.R. 7791 would make baby formula shortages worse for most Americans," Gaetz tweeted on Wednesday. "It will allow WIC to utilize a far greater portion of the baby formula market, crowding out many hard-working American families."

Gaetz and Greene's position is far out of the mainstream, even among their own party.

They were two of just nine House Republicans to vote against the bill, which will ease restrictions for WIC beneficiaries and gives the Secretary of Agriculture the ability to "modify or waive any qualified administrative requirement" for state agencies that administer WIC benefits. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent.

"The Senate has just passed legislation to help ease the terrible nightmare parents are facing trying to find baby formula for their kids," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday. "It's rare that we have unanimity in the Senate on important measures, and I wish we had more. But this is one of these important issues and I'm glad we're acting with one voice."

According to the White House, about half of the formula in the United States is purchased by WIC beneficiaries. Florida and Georgia — where Gaetz and Greene hail from, respectively — have some of the highest WIC participation rates, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2021, about 403,000 families used the program in Florida, while about 185,000 families used it in Georgia.

While states determine the exact income eligibility for WIC, the federal government says that states cannot provide WIC benefits to people earning more than 185% of the federal poverty level, or roughly $51,000 a year for a family of four. On May 12, President Joe Biden's administration recommended that states ease restrictions on the size and types of formula WIC beneficiaries could buy in the wake of the formula shortage.

Infant formula has been in short supply since February, when Abbott Nutrition, one of the largest formula producers in the United States, recalled formula made at its plant in Sturgis, Michigan. Four infants who consumed formula from the plant were hospitalized with dangerous bacterial infections, two of whom died.

The Sturgis plant currently remains closed, and the few other domestic formula producers cannot keep up with the increased demand. While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it has reached an agreement with Abbott on the criteria needed to reopen the plant, it's unclear when the company will meet the criteria. Even when formula production at the plant resumes, it will still take six to eight weeks for the new formula to hit shelves.

This week, Biden announced more measures to help alleviate the formula shortage, including invoking the Defense Production Act to increase supply and using federal resources to quickly import more formula from other countries.

On Wednesday, the House passed a separate emergency funding bill on Wednesday to address the ongoing formula shortage, with almost every single House Republican voting against it.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

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There's a lot to look forward to in life as you get older. But the older we get, the more we start to wonder how much longer we're going to live. In order to live longer, it's important to lead a healthy lifestyle and there are many everyday things you can do to benefit your health. Here are six things you can do to imiprove your life.

Move Around

As we get older, our arms and legs don't work as well as they did in our younger years. In fact, there are at least two million new wheelchair users in the United States every year, which means there are two million people who aren't able to get up and move.

One of the best things you can do for yourself to live longer is to keep moving. Even if you're not a gym fanatic, there's plenty you can do to stay active. Aim for at least half an hour of activity every day. You can break it up by taking short walks, lifting some hand weights, playing sports, or walking on a treadmill.

Eat Healthy

It's not always easy, but eating healthy and making good food choices is important the older you get. That doesn't mean giviing up your favorite foods cold turkey, but enjoying foods in moderation and following a diet will help keep you healthy. Studies have found that the Mediterranean Diet, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts, is a good one to follow.

Maintain A Good Weight

Along with eating well and staying active, you can live longer by maintaining a healthy weight. That's especially true of senior citizens. The CDC finds that men and women who reach the age of 80 are likely to live another eight to 10 years. Take time to take note of your weight. If you're unsure what a healthy weight should be, consult your doctor.

Don't Smoke

Of all the things you can do to help yourself live longer, this one might be the most important. Smoking affects the lungs and coronary arteries and the older you get, the more risk you have of a stroke or cancer. Whether you're a casual or longtime smoker, take steps to quit; your body will thank you.

Get Some Sleep

We all have reactions to not getting enough sleep and generally none of them are ever good. A lack of sleep makes it hard to focus, makes you irritable, and perhaps unable to put forth your best effort at work. To help yourself live longer, sleep is paramount. Make sure to go to bed at a reasonable hour and turn off electronic devices so you're only focused on sleeping. Don't be afraid to nap either. A mid-day snooze can be just the thing you need to recharge yourself to focus on the rest of your day.

Make Friends

It's estimated that about one million Americans currently live in senior communities and by 2030 that number is expected to double. In senior living communities, you're surrounded by people who can be your friends. Studies have shown that an active social life can also help you live longer, so don't be afraid to make some new pals.

By taking steps to live a healthier life, you'll give yourself every chance to live longer. You'll also lead a more fulfilling life because you're actively taking care of yourself and doing the things you love doing. So if you're concerned about your health as you get older, take steps to change right away. Even small steps can have a big impact and you may just surprise yourself with how those changes have positive benefits for your health and your life.