A decades-old program created by President George W. Bush to combat AIDS around the world is at risk of being sucked into a partisan dispute over abortion, with some Republicans threatening to block its renewal.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic former House speaker, and George W. Bush, the Republican former president, do not agree on much. But earlier this year, they joined a high-powered gathering in Washington — with the Irish rock star Bono on video from Dublin — to mark the 20th anniversary of America’s biggest and, arguably, most successful foreign aid program.
Mr. Bush created that program, the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief, in 2003. In the two decades since, PEPFAR, as it is known, has saved 25 million lives and served as a powerful tool for soft diplomacy, a symbol of America’s moral leadership in the world. It has had extraordinary support from a bipartisan coalition of liberals and Christian conservatives.
But now PEPFAR is in danger of becoming a victim of abortion politics — just as the State Department is reorganizing to make the program permanent.
The program is set to expire at the end of September. But House Republicans are not moving forward with a bill to reauthorize it for another five years, because abortion opponents — led by a G.O.P. congressman who has long been a supporter of PEPFAR — are insisting on adding abortion-related restrictions.