Late Monday morning, the offices of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Washington, D.C., were stormed by liberal protesters, who demanded that government funding for AIDS research and medication be extended.
This program — the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR — has recently been opposed by some Republicans, who believe that at least some of $7 billion in funds will be reallocated to abortion providers, the New York Post reported.
PEPFAR is a legacy of the George W. Bush administration that provides government funding for AIDS research and provides HIV/AIDS medications for nonprofits. The program is set to expire at the end of the month.
The protesters, four men and three women, refused to leave after a warning from Capitol Police, were handcuffed with zip ties and arrested for unlawful entry, according to the Post.
McCarthy was not present in his offices during the demonstrations, as he was visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to remember those who were lost in the Sept. 11 attacks 22 years ago.
The controversy surrounding the funding for PEPFAR arose earlier this summer, according to a June report from Politico. House Republicans declared that the Biden administration had misappropriated funds that were originally intended for AIDS relief to fund abortion programs.
According to the report, New Jersey Republican Rep. Chris Smith, an outspoken abortion opponent who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Right and International Organizations, said the Biden administration had inserted language about “sexual health and reproductive rights” into a document called “Reimagining PEPFAR’s Strategic Direction.”
“The president fired the first shot,” Smith told Politico at the time.
According to the Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. government has already dumped over $100 billion in taxpayers’ money into PEPFAR. Many of those funds are used in support efforts overseas.
The protesters were supported by the leftist groups HousingWorks and HealthGAP, according to their X profiles. HousingWorks, a non-profit based in New York City, deals primarily with fighting AIDS and homelessness. HealthGAP exists as an advocacy group that works with HIV issues internationally.
“When it comes to both the domestic cuts [to HIV funding] and the failure thus far to reauthorize PEPFAR in its current form, we’re seeing that the issues are coming from the Republican caucus, so we need leadership. [McCarthy] needs to get his caucus in order,” Bancroft said.
A video documenting the protesters was posted to X, formerly Twitter, late Monday morning by health care reporter Alice Miranda Ollstein.
BREAKING: Activists are occupying @SpeakerMcCarthy’s office demanding a full 5 year reauthorization of PEPFAR, which some Rs are opposing. Background: https://t.co/nQVnCxPDE0 pic.twitter.com/wCZx4Z6wzu
— Alice Miranda Ollstein (@AliceOllstein) September 11, 2023
The video features protesters chanting: “Pass PEPFAR now, McCarthy.”
The gentle treatment of these protesters has caused many conservatives to wonder about the much harsher treatments of those involved in the Capitol incursion on Jan. 6, 2021, including former President Donald Trump.
As one commenter on the New York Post story put it: “I wonder if Biden’s Justice Dept is going to treat them with the same severity that they treated the Jan. 6th defendants for essentially doing the same thing. I think we all know the answer to that question.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.