The House of Representatives has spoken out against the Biden administration's plan to use the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to support abortion-related programs. The State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill, which includes a one-year extension for PEPFAR, was passed by the House (216–121). Lawmakers made sure to include pro-life protections, though, so non-governmental groups that get money from PEPFAR can't support abortion.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) October 2, 2023
A heated discussion happened over the Biden administration's plan to combine PEPFAR with areas like "sexual and reproductive health, rights, and services." Republican Rep. Chris Smith, who led the charge to keep abortion funding out of PEPFAR, said the Biden administration was trying to "hijack" the $6.7 billion AIDS program.
"Unfortunately, the Biden administration has reimagined—hijacked—PEPFAR to empower pro-abortion international non-governmental organizations, deviating from its life-affirming work," Rep. Smith said. He thanked them for rejecting Biden's plan to promote abortion and for increasing funding for PEPFAR's life-saving programs while protecting important pro-life rights.
Not a single Democrat voted for the House bill, so it will now go to the Senate. It is still unclear how the Senate will handle Sen. Bob Menendez's (New Jersey) proposal to extend PEPFAR for another five years. According to PEPFAR, its permission will run out on Sunday.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America head Marjorie Dannenfelser praised the House-passed bill and stressed that PEPFAR should not be used to pay abortion providers. "We applaud the House for protecting the core purpose of the program against the Biden administration's attempts to use an AIDS relief program to get political support for funding groups that provide abortions to carry out "reproductive health, rights, and services." Furthermore, she mentioned that the vast majority of Americans are against using public money for abortions.
Basically, the House did the right thing by standing up for PEPFAR's basic goal of stopping and treating HIV/AIDS. With the addition of pro-life clauses, they made sure that the program would continue to value life and not be used to promote abortion. The Senate can now look at the plan and decide what to do about the future of PEPFAR.