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PEPFAR’s chances of becoming a plus-one

The fight over reauthorizing a once-bipartisan international HIV/AIDS program escalated Monday with seven sit-in protestors arrested on the hill. But lawmakers are growing less optimistic about a full-reauthorization, as champions scale back aspirations and search for a way to break a deadlock triggered by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) before a $6.9 billion funding lapse.


Smith, who penned the program’s last five-year authorization, is refusing to back an identical bill because he believes PEPFAR has been indirectly funding abortions ever since President Biden rolled back the Trump-era Mexico City Policy. While most GOP lawmakers are antiabortion, fewer buy into that argument: the bill’s Senate co-sponsor Lindsay Graham said last week he hadn’t “seen any evidence of it.”

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