Leftists arrested while occupying Speaker McCarthy's office

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

A group of leftist activists occupied the office of Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Monday morning. They demand a clean reauthorization of PEPFAR in Congress.

Speaker McCarthy did just as he should have done. He had them arrested. Good for him. According to the reporter on the scene, they were “marched out in zip ties” while chanting “pass PEPFAR now.”


As Byron York of the Washington Examiner noted, there were multiple charges against the leftists that could have been brought.

Was that an insurrection right there in the Speaker’s office? Some on social media saw a similarity.

We know that leftist protesters are treated differently than conservatives. These people probably got the Jane Fonda treatment like when the climate protesters are arrested on Capitol Hill. A quick stop at the police station and then they are sent on their way.

PEPFAR, a program that works with nonprofits to provide HIV/AIDS medication around the world, has a Sept. 30 deadline to re-up the law governing it.


Housing Works, a group behind the protest, posted it was “proud” to be part of the demonstration.

Leftists blame a possible hitch in PEPFAR’s funding on conservatives. Shocker, I know.

The program was launched by President George W. Bush. PEPFAR, which stands for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is credited with saving over 25 million lives.

A whopping seven people were arrested.

U.S. Capitol police arrested four men and three women for alleged unlawful entry in their occupation of an office in a House office building, said Brianna Burch, a Capitol police spokeswoman. The demonstrators were asked to leave, but Burch said in a statement that they “refused to cease demonstrating.”

Burch said Capitol police were called to the demonstration at about 11:18 a.m., but did not confirm the exact location.


Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say the path to reauthorization is iffy right now.

“For 20 years, we’ve passed clean reauthorizations on a bipartisan basis to keep this program running, and this September we’re at risk of it lapsing,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a coauthor of the law that created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief during the George W. Bush administration.

She is also the top Democrat on the Appropriations panel that controls the program’s budget, and she plans a lobbying blitz when the House returns in mid-September targeting members elected since the program, commonly called PEPFAR, launched in 2003.

It may boil down to a political battle over abortion. Some conservatives say that PEPFAR funding goes to abortion providers. Democrats deny the claim. PEPFAR has a nearly $7 billion annual budget. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) is leading the fight against reauthorization in the House. He chairs the House’s global health subcommittee which controls PEPFAR funding. The Biden administration lifted abortion restrictions in 2021.

Smith told POLITICO that he partnered with Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and other Capitol Hill conservatives to lobby fellow Republicans in both chambers over the August recess, and said two arguments they made resonated with members. The first is that PEPFAR would have funding to operate even if the law governing the program lapses, and the second is that the Biden administration has “hijacked” the program to support abortion access overseas.

“That’s the gee-whiz moment that’s happening when I have conversations with people who do believe in the sanctity of life,” Smith said. “I’m encouraged that within two or three minutes of a conversation people would say, ‘That’s not what we signed up for. We signed up to go after HIV and AIDS aggressively and effectively, not to have a diversion of priority to abortion on demand.’”


So, here we are. This is a good example of why cultural issues are important for a political candidate to weigh in on. Abortion is a cultural issue yet it is mixed in with many major funding battles in Congress. Conservatives can use participation in abortions to scratch funding on other initiatives and agencies, too, if more prudent fiscal spending is the goal. You can rest assured that Democrats will use abortion access against Republicans in the 2024 presidential election, same as they did in the 2022 midterm elections. We saw the results.

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