(UnitedVoice.com) – Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is no stranger to protests. He is targeted by people on the Left and the Right and generally takes it all in stride. But recently, authorities forcefully removed a group of activists from his office.
In 2003, President George W. Bush launched the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) initiative. The program was meant to address the AIDS and HIV epidemic across the world. Over the past 20 years, experts have credited the program with saving more than 25 million lives.
On September 30, the program is set to expire. Congress will have to reauthorize its funding if it wishes to continue the initiative. On September 11, US Capitol police arrested three women and four men for allegedly entering McCarthy’s office. A police spokeswoman, Brianna Burch, said the demonstrators refused to leave after they were asked to vacate the premises. Despite the orders to leave, Burch said they “refused to cease demonstrating.”
A video posted online showed the demonstrators sitting on McCarthy’s office floor and chanting, “Pass PEPFAR now, McCarthy!”
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 protesters were reportedly with a group known as Housing Works. They want the speaker to reauthorize the program for five more years. In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, the group said they were proud to stand with Health GAP and occupy McCarthy’s office.
This global AIDS program has saved 25 million lives. We need a CLEAN 5-YEAR REAUTHORIZATION from Congress. pic.twitter.com/njQsNpDcLO
— Housing Works (@housingworks) September 11, 2023
Reports indicate it’s unlikely Congress will reauthorize the program. The law had previously been renewed on a five-year basis. If lawmakers do not vote to reauthorize the AIDS program, it will still operate, but it will be rolled into the budget battle.
The battle over the budget is already a source of much debate on Capitol Hill. The threat of a shutdown this fall is looming. Leaders in the Senate and the House will have to push through a continuing resolution to give them more time to negotiate without a shutdown. But if they are unable to reach a deal by September 30, they will face a partial shutdown, which would hurt the country.
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