- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Congress has taken notice of the tampon shortage around the country, rooted in the supply chain crisis, and the high costs of fuel and raw materials.

The shortage of feminine hygiene products surfaced as the Biden administration is still grappling with a nationwide shortage of baby formula.

Rep. Yvette Clarke, New York Democrat and a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said Tuesday that Congress needs “to do something about this supply chain dynamic.”

Ms. Clarke confirmed that the shortage of feminine hygiene products has gone “beyond a whisper” among her female colleagues in Congress.

“It’s a public health issue at this point. It’s crazy. Who could’ve ever envisioned it, but we’ve got to do everything we can,” she said. “If we have to get the Defense Production Act to move into that space, we’ll have to do it, because we just can’t have a significant part of our population — it’s beyond inconvenience. It’s a health crisis,” Ms. Clarke noted.

Time initially reported on the tampon shortage last week and highlighted that the scarcity of these products has lasted longer than others, such as toilet paper and cleaning items at the start of the pandemic.

Inflation also caused tampons to become more expensive. Tampon prices are up 10 percent from a year ago, according to a report from Bloomberg News, noting the skyrocketing costs of the materials used to make the products, including rayon, cotton, plastic and fluff pulp. Each was in high demand for masks and other medical products at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, Texas’ drought, diesel costs and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine also bottle-necked the delivery of these materials.

Sen. Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire Democrat, expressed her concerns about the lack of feminine hygiene products earlier on Monday and sent a letter to Tampax maker Procter & Gamble’s Chief Executive Officer Jon Moller.

“I have seen troubling reports about low supplies and even empty shelves of tampons – as well as concerning indications that instead of increasing supply, companies have increased tampon prices,” Mrs. Hassan wrote. “Companies like yours that produce tampons must take immediate action to increase the tampon supply and end unnecessary price increases.”

Procter & Gamble said in an email to The Washington Times that the company is working to fix the shortage.

“We understand it is frustrating for consumers when they can’t find what they need. We expect this is a temporary situation, and the Tampax team is producing tampons 24/7 to meet the increased demand for our products.”  P&G said.  “We working with our retail partners to maximize availability, which has significantly increased over the last several months.”

Republicans did not waste any time criticizing the Biden administration over the tampon shortage and said this will affect how women vote in the mid-term elections this fall.

“Joe Biden’s tampon shortage impacts women across the country. That’s not good for Democrats’ election prospects this November,” National Republican Congressional Committee Spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair said in a statement.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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