US Capitol Police arrested seven activists who “busy” Monday morning at the entrance to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office, demanding that the Republican majority reauthorize PEPFAR, a global HIV-AIDS program that expires at the end of the month.
Several reporters filmed protesters joining hands, sitting on the floor of the California Republican’s office and chanting “Take PEPFAR now, McCarthy!” » again and again.
Police charged with protecting the building gave the protesters a polite warning, then tied up seven of them and led them away. An officer told Politico he could be charged with “inconvenient” which means obstructing traffic.
The activists belonged to the “direct action” arms of two advocacy groups, HousingWorks and HealthGAP.
Alyson Bancroft from HealthGAP said Policy that they chose McCarthy as “strategic target” in their efforts to obtain PEPFAR reauthorization.
“Regarding both the national cuts (in HIV funding) and the failure thus far to reauthorize PEPFAR in its current form, we see that the problems are coming from the Republican caucus, so we need leadership . » she says.
PEPFAR means “The President’s Emergency Plan for the Fight against AIDS. » It was launched by George W. Bush in 2003 and has since been renewed. As of May 2020, it had dedicated $90 billion to HIV/AIDS treatment, prevention and research, making it the largest global health program before Covid-19.
Some Republicans in the House and Senate have expressed objections to reauthorizing the program in the next spending bill, arguing that it indirectly supports the promotion of abortion abroad. Democrats claim this is not the case and want the program to continue.
Several Republican experts also underlines that the media treated Monday’s stunt as normal advocacy and business as usual, while a Republican protest against the 2020 election was characterized as “insurrection” and resulted in criminal charges against more than 1,100 people. A person who was not even at the US Capitol on January 6 was sentenced last week to 22 years in prison for “seditious plot” to obstruct an official procedure.
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