Friends Committee on National Legislation Annual Reports
The text of recently received Annual Reports of Friends Committee on National Legislation are below, with the most recently received at the top and older reports below. To jump to a particular report, simply click the year listed below.
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No report received.
2018 Report to Yearly Meetings
Since the early days of the Religious Society of Friends, God’s spirit has led Friends to take action in the world. As Friends, our faith and experience convince us to work for the peaceful, just, equitable, and sustainable world we seek. This year we celebrate our 75th anniversary. Founded in 1943 in Richmond, Indiana, FCNL has been bringing the concerns, experiences, and testimonies of Friends to bear on policy decisions in the nation’s capital for the past seven decades.
Setting the Legislative Priorities for the 116th Congress
One of the distinctive features of the Friends Committee on National Legislation is our practice of asking Quakers around the country to help shape our collective work. Every two years, FCNL asks Friends and their meetings, churches, and worship groups all over the country to discern which public policy issues they feel are most pressing for the next Congress.
The core question as part of this process is, where is the spirit leading us? How are Friends called to influence government today? Your discernment is the foundation for the lobbying priorities that FCNL will establish at our annual meeting in November of 2018. This summer, FCNL’s Policy Committee will read all the responses and consider a set of priorities to bring to the annual meeting.
Learn. Lobby Lead. Update on Annual Meeting 2017
FCNL’s Quaker Public Policy Institute and Lobby Day drew some 450 people to Washington, DC to lobby against huge increases in Pentagon spending. More than 300 of that number stayed for FCNL’s Annual Meeting which celebrated the successful conclusion of our World We Seek Capital Campaign, affirmed the direction of the Forward Plan outlined by staff, and showed off the first materials prepared for celebrations of FCNL’s 75th Anniversary in 2018.
One of the most exciting moments of the 2017 Annual Meeting was the celebration of the successful conclusion of FCNL’s five-year capital campaign and opening of the new Quaker Welcome Center at 205 C Street. On October 5, we held a ribbon cutting event attended by Washington, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, as well as FCNL’s Executive and Education Fund Board. In the past few months, we have begun hosting conversations and programs to promote the world we seek. We are excited to offer the Quaker Welcome Center as a meeting space where lawmakers and staffers can have quiet conversations and speak across political divisions. FCNL has always been known as a place where people across the political spectrum feel welcome, and the Quaker Welcome Center will help us continue that tradition.
Every aspect of this building’s construction minimized environmental impact and furthered the goal of creating a carbon-neutral building. FCNL was honored to be able to open the first LEED-certified building on Capitol Hill in 2005, and we’re glad to continue our legacy of lobbying for an earth restored with this new Quaker Welcome Center, located next door to our office. The convenient location means that partner organizations working for peace and justice can easily take part in workshops and trainings as part of their lobbying efforts, and we look forward to welcoming FCNL supporters and activists like you before your visits with congressional offices.
We invite you to visit the Quaker Welcome Center and enjoy our expanded presence on Capitol Hill.
The Critical Role of Young Adult Friends
As we look to sustain FCNL’s persistent and prophetic advocacy for another 75 years, we know how critical it is for young adults to play a central role in both FCNL’s advocacy work and its governance. We are glad to report that FCNL’s Standing Committees are stronger because of young adult participation. We are blessed to have these young adults playing leadership roles in the governance of FCNL.
We are also grateful to the 25 Yearly Meetings that have appointed members to serve on FCNL’s General Committee. Thank you for sharing the nurturing gifts of these wise and committed Friends. With their guidance, we seek to remain open to where God’s spirit leads us.
With gratitude for your partnership,
Baltimore Yearly Meeting
Clerk, FCNL General Committee
FCNL is developing a college-age “advocacy corps” whose 2016 focus was immigration reform. We also have “advocacy teams” of all ages. Liz Hofmeister is a Maryland leader. FCNL has an Instagram account. FCNL reports they are:
- making progress in persuading Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a simultaneous replacement that cares for the 22 million people who benefit from that program.
- pushing back on dangerous immigration reform proposals.
- very concerned about the $54 billion increase in Pentagon spending that President Trump is proposing for next year, with the extra funds coming out of cuts in the EPA, State and other agencies. The US already spends more on defense than the next seven or eight nations combined. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jan/13/barack-obama/obama-us-spends-more-military-next-8-nations-combi/
FCNL reminds us: “Congress is the place where we can block some of these dangerous proposals,” some of which have already gotten strong pushback from Capitol Hill Republicans.
- If you wonder what you can do because all or some of your senators and representative agree with you, go to https://www.fcnl.org/updates/help-my-representatives-are-great-what-now-666
- Annual Meeting was November 10, 2016, just two days after the election. In conjunction with the event, we had about 180 lobby visits. At the time, there was hope sentencing reform could pass in the lame duck session. Speaker Ryan was working quietly to make that happen, but it did not.
Climate change: The bipartisan climate caucus in the House had 10 R and 10 D members, reflecting a deliberate attempt to keep the numbers even. Terrible environmental amendments were passed last summer. Up to 40 Republicans voted against these provisions and got almost entirely positive feedback from their constituents. However, carbon tax advocacy played a significant role in Rep. Bob Inglis's (R-SC) primary defeat, after which he commented, “It's a dangerous strategy, to build conservatism on information and policies that are not credible.” It is not clear that we can protect the Paris agreement, because Obama kept it out of Congress's hands. A letter to Paris saying 'the Paris agreement is not US policy because Congress didn't approve' was signed by just 13 senators. The Clean Power Plan is also an executive initiative which the President can reverse. Republicans are expected to feel pressure from the growth of renewables. “We aren't exporting energy any more,” and farmers are getting checks for power companies renting their property (e.g. for wind farms). Renewables are a major and growing source of employment. Last year, renewables accounted for 15% of US power generation.
Nuclear warheads and defense spending: The US and Russia continue to implement the NEW Start Treaty. We blocked shipping lethal weapons to Ukraine. Obama was the first sitting president to visit Hiroshima. The number of nuclear warheads is down 85% from the peak. Key issues:
(1) Need to stop nuclear modernization plans which could cost $1 trillion over 20 years.
(2) Normal relations with Russia is prerequisite for further nuclear reductions – a possibility with Trump but would not have been a possibility with Clinton.
(3) North Korea: US policy has been a 'complete failure' but what to do is not clear.
(4) William Perry (Clinton defense secretary) says that, because of non-state terrorist actors, there is now a greater risk of nuclear detonation than during the Cold War.
Other nations would not go along with the US opting out of the multinational Iran deal.
Middle East: In Yemen, one in three Saudi bombs hit civilian targets. In November we were told that the US provides the Saudis with diplomatic support, military training and sales (bombs), refueling and logistical support. But civilian casualties are excessive because they ignore US advice. Recent reporting makes clear that Trump, contrary to some of his campaign statements, is ramping up our military operations in Yemen.
To solve the Syrian problem, we need diplomacy with Russia and Iran. Sanctions have enabled the most notorious black market of all times; Putin is emboldened, not suffering. Our arms just fuel human rights violations or end up in the hands of Isis. We need Russia to press Assad to improve his behavior, as happened with chemical weapons.
The vast majority of U.S. legislators who supported the Iran deal were re-elected. Those who lost did so for other reasons. Some deal opponents lost. Congress must approve the Iran deal before its seventh anniversary, meaning 60 votes in the Senate and a majority in the House.
The Ed Snyder Award was presented to Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), the longest-serving U.S. legislator from New England. He has been a strong supporter of:
- a clear nuclear “no-first-use” policy,
- work to address climate change (including the Waxman-Markey bill a.k.a. The American Clean Energy and Security Act (Waxman-Markey Bill which the House passed 219-212 on June 26, 2009), and
- ratification of the comprehensive test ban treaty. He opposes the costly modernization of our nuclear weapons.
There were also excellent presentations on race relations and by this year's impressive group of young legislative associates (formerly interns).
Contributors to this report include Ross Capon and Liz Hofmeister from Bethesda Friends Meeting. BYM representatives to FCNL appreciate the opportunity they had to learn about these and other issues at the FCNL Annual Meeting in November 2016, immediately after the election: Rosalie Dance, Deanna Meyer Boyd, Marion Ballard, Tom Gibian, Susan Griffin, Byron Sandford.
2016 Report to Yearly Meetings
As Friends, our faith and experience convince us to work for the peaceful, just, equitable, and sustainable world we seek. Above all, we seek to remain open to where God leads us. The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) has carried on this witness of the Spirit through action on Capitol Hill for nearly 75 years.
FCNL is strengthening our civil dialogue and lobbying by our community. We are investing in programs to expand our work with young adults and local lobby leadership. We are seeing results such as the introduction of-bipartisan proposals to address climate change (H.Res 424)-and build peace through the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (5.2551). Our expanded programs to train and support Friends and others building relationships with their members of Congress have helped grow the power of our Quaker lobbying community. This broadening and deepening of our outreach is made possible by our capital campaign, “The World We Seek: Now Is the Time.”
FCNL brings the concerns, experiences, and testimonies of Friends to bear on policy decisions in the nation’s capital. We are governed by a General Committee of 178 Quakers, representing 25 Yearly Meetings and four Quaker organizations. We are sustained by the advocacy, prayers, and financial support of tens of thousands of Friends and like-minded people across the country, in every state and nearly every congressional district. Thank you for your support and leadership.
Living our Faith through Action
FCNL’s 17 registered lobbyists meet on Capitol Hill with lawmakers and their staff, and we work as partners with citizen advocates across the country. In 2015, 1,314 Friends and supporters of FCNL made more than 593 personal visits to congressional offices, in Washington and in local districts, on FCNL priority issues. Our network also sent 120,516 issue-related messages to Congress and had 101 letters to the editor published that support our advocacy priorities.
In November, we welcomed more than 400 Quakers and other friends in the FCNL network to Washington for our annual Quaker Public Policy Institute, focused on the importance of the Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act. Delegations from 38 states lobbied more than 200 congressional offices over the course of two days. As a direct result of FCNL constituent lobbying, three key members of Congress joined as co-sponsors and this legislation (S.2551) was introduced to the Senate on February 12, 2016.
The World We Seek: Now is the Time Capital Campaign
FCNL is building a sustainable future through our capital campaign, which will strengthen the foundation for FCNL’s lobbying and programs. FCNL and the FCNL Education Fund are undertaking an effort to build the capacity of our programs and our financial health by raising $15 million to secure future advocacy. The capital campaign is supporting the next generation of advocates, creating a Quaker Welcome Center on Capitol Hill, re-vitalizing the Friend in Washington Program, and expanding FCNL’s lobbying and grassroots network.
Thanks to the General Committee, appointed by Yearly Meetings, and our close network of Friends and supporters, FCNL continues to make progress in Washington.
Our faith and experience convince us to work for the peaceful, just, equitable, and sustainable world we seek. Above all, we seek to remain open to where God’s spirit leads us. We greatly appreciate and acknowledge the significant impact of the financial support and activism of individuals and Quaker meetings, churches and yearly meetings. Please keep us in your prayers.
North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative)
Clerk, FCNL General Committee
FCNL’s Executive Committee and Education Fund Board
Eric Ginsburg, Clerk, North Carolina Yearly Meeting (Conservative)
DeAnne Butterfield, Assistant Clerk, Intermountain Yearly Meeting
David A. Bantz, Recording Clerk, Alaska Friends Conference
Constance Brookes, FCNL Treasurer, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Becky Steele, Ed Fund Treasurer, New England Yearly Meeting
A. T. Miller, Personnel Clerk, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, New England Yearly Meeting
Scott Duncan, Clerk of the Development Committee, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Deborah Fink, Clerk of the Field Committee, Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative)
Mary Lou Hatcher, At-large member, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Mark Kharas, At-large member Ed Fund, New England Yearly Meeting
Beth Henricks, Clerk of the Capital Campaign Committee, Western Yearly Meeting
Karen Putney, Clerk of the Nominating Committee, Southeastern Yearly Meeting
Kelly Schoolmeester, Clerk of the Policy Committee, Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting
David Snyder, Clerk of the Annual Meeting Planning Committee, Lake Erie Yearly Meeting
John Wilkin, Clerk of the Finance Committee, Northwest Yearly Meeting
What We Achieve Together:
We seek a world free of war and the threat of war
We seek a society with equity and justice for all
We seek a community where every person’s potential maybe fulfilled
We seek an earth restored
Iran: Diplomacy Works
FCNL was a leader in mobilizing congressional support for the diplomatic agreement with Iran, which is keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons and preventing war. Our lobbying intensified as Congress prepared to vote on the agreement. We helped organize faith parties in Washington, DC to lobby for the Iran deal. Our powerful combination of Hill lobbying, grassroots advocacy, organization of other faith groups, letters to the editor in all 50 states, and media outreach helped achieve results: 42 senators supported the deal, enough to block the vote. Congressional Quarterly called FCNL’s Kate Gould “the Quaker lobbyist behind the Iran deal fight,” joining the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and U.S. News and World Report in recognizing FCNL’s pro-diplomacy leadership. fcnl.org/iran
Climate Change: A Bipartisan Way Forward
Breaking the partisan gridlock that is blocking action on climate change is a central focus of FCNL’s advocacy. Our work has directly led to the introduction of a Republican-sponsored resolution committing members to discuss and address climate change. FCNL worked with Rep. Chris Gibson (NY) and other sponsors to build support for the resolution. Speaking at the Climate Justice Rally on the National Mall in September, FCNL’s Jose Aguto called it “a crack in the partisan dam, behind which lies a great river of climate solutions.” Our lobbying in Washington is supported and reinforced by the members of FCNL’s Advocacy Corps, who are organizing in districts across the country for bipartisan climate action. fcnl.org/climate
Mass Incarceration: Ease Harsh, Discriminatory Sentencing
As a result of harsh sentencing laws, the U.S. is the world’s leader in incarceration, with 2.2 million people behind bars. FCNL is building support for federal legislation to reduce mandatory sentencing lengths, give judges more sentencing discretion, and limit solitary confinement. This effort was the focus of our Spring Lobby Weekend in March 2016 that brought a record 400 young adults to Washington, D.C. to lobby for bi-partisan legislation. fcnl.org/incarceration
De-Militarizing US. Police Forces
President Obama announced that the federal government will stop giving certain military equipment to local police departments. Even before the highly publicized killings by police in Ferguson, New York and Baltimore focused national attention on U.S. policing, FCNL was laying the groundwork to get military equipment off Main Street. We collaborated closely with Rep. Hank Johnson (GA) on the Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act, legislation that includes many of the provisions in the president’s executive order. fcnl.org/militarism
Ending Endless War
The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) has given two presidents a blank check to justify new wars, deadly drone attacks around the world, detentions at Guantanamo Bay and U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. FCNL lobbyists in Washington and around the country continue to lead efforts to repeal this law and insist that Congress debate and vote on every war. Last year, we convinced more than 200 members of Congress to vote (at different times) for repeal of the AUMF. As Congress considers a new authorization against the Islamic State, we continue to press members to first repeal the existing law, which allows the president to act virtually without limit. fcnl.org/endlesswar
Building Structures for Peace
FCNL has led efforts to persuade the U.S. government to invest in diplomacy, peacebuilding, and other means to prevent wars before they start U.S. support for peacehuilding efforts in Kenya. the Central African Republic and elsewhere show the power of nonviolent approaches to problem-solving. Yet the U.S. infrastructure to carry out this work is precarious and underfunded. U.S. foreign policy needs to pivot to peace. FCNL is helping to secure funding for peacebuilding and build support for permanent authorization of these programs. fcnl.org/peacebuilding
Cutting the Pentagon and Nuclear Weapons Budgets
While Pentagon spending has declined from its height during the Iraq War, the U.S. government still spends almost as much on the military as it did during the Cold War and Vietnam War. FCNL’s current lobbying focuses in two areas: eliminating the loophole that lets the Pentagon avoid spending caps and opposing congressional efforts to fund the Pentagon by cutting domestic spending. We are working to close the loophole that lets the Pentagon avoid spending restrictions and to cut nuclear weapons spending through the SANE Act. This legislation would eliminate $100 billion in nuclear weapons spending over the next decade. fcnl.org/budget & fcnl.org/nuclear
Building Life-Long Lobbyists
People of all ages work for change with FCNL. Through advocacy events in Washington, D.C. and programs to sustain and support grassroots organizers in their local communities, we are making change together. In 2014 we began a dramatic expansion of our work with young peop1e. We launched the Advocacy Corps to cultivate young adult leadership and to promote grassroots engagement. We visited more than 60 colleges and universities around the country to build diversity and recruit social justice advocates. We’re seeing the results in advances on climate action and ending endless wars, and we are well on our way to raising the money to endow these programs through our Capital Campaign. fcnl.org/advocate
Check out our website to find out why Americans for Indian Opportunity gave their “Spirit of Indigeneity Award” to FCNL, how our lobbyists organize congressional visits and participate in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, why our staff are working with a coalition of faith groups on a constitutional amendment to address campaign finance reform, the details on an interfaith initiative to stop lethal drones, and more. fcnl.org/successes
Please see the following Friends Committee on National Legislation 2015 Annual Report from FCNL clerk DeAnne Butterfield for distribution to Yearly Meetings. As indicated in this report, FCNL is operated under the direction of a 184-member General Committee composed of representatives from yearly meetings and other Quaker organizations from around the United States to express our concerns on policy decisions in our nation's capital.
Sixteen Friends from BYM currently serve on the FCNL General Committee: Marion Ballard, Herb Beskar, Deanna Boyd, Ross Capon, Rosalie Dance, Chris Daw, Gretchen Hall, Malachy Kilbride, Bill Mims, Oliver Moles, Damian Morden-Snipper, Kate Newman-Zohir, Bob Rhudy, John Salzberg, Catherine Stratton-Treadway, and Karen Treber. These General Committee members can work with FCNL staff to make presentations at monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings within BYM regarding FCNL, legislative priorities, lobbying, and other related matters. Many of our monthly meetings also have FCNL contacts who help coordinate information exchange and support member participation with FCNL.
FCNL will conduct its annual meeting on “Building a Pathway to Peace,” with its Quaker Public Policy Institute and Lobby Day on November 12, 15, 2015 in Washington, D.C. We encourage you to attend, participate, and join with other Friends from your states and districts in lobbying your U.S. senators and representatives in support of peace, social and economic justice, care of the earth, and good government. Please review the FCNL website at www.fcnl.org for more information on our 2015 annual sessions and our priorities, activities and special events.
Please also contact your BYM representatives to FCNL at any time with your questions, recommendations, and concerns. Thank you for your interest and support as we work together “To Seek a Better World.”
Bob Rhudy (Patapsco)
Since the early days of the Religious Society of Friends, God’s spirit has led Friends to take action in the world. For more than 70 years, FCNL has carried on this witness of the Spirit through action on Capitol Hill. Governed by a General Committee of 184 Friends that includes representatives of 25 yearly meetings and seven Quaker organizations around the country, FCNL seeks to bring the concerns, experiences and testimonies of Friends to bear on policy decisions in the nation’s capital.
Driven by faith.
At FCNL’s Annual Meeting in November 2013, the General Committee approved a new statement of legislative policy entitled The World We Seek. Revised every ten years, the new document was the product of an 18-month process of prayerful discernment involving more than 240 Friends meetings and churches. The statement sets forth FCNL’s broad objectives for public policy and is the foundational document for FCNL’s legislative priorities, which are set every two years. Meetings and churches have been invited to participate in setting the new legislative priorities, which will be approved at Annual Meeting this November, just after the congressional elections.
Grounded in policy.
In 2013 FCNL welcomed a record 271 people to our Annual Meeting. During Quaker Lobby Day prior to the start of Annual Meeting, 200 people visited 140 congressional offices to urge Congress to invest in our communities and impose budget discipline on the Pentagon. In the last year alone, Friends in FCNL have made more than 300 personal visits to lobby congressional offices in Washington and in their local districts. Our national FCNL network has also sent 126,000 issue-related messages to Congress, and in the first two months of 2014, Friends in FCNL published 60 letters to the editor in newspapers around the country.
Focused on the future.
A record number of young adults attended FCNL’s Annual Meeting, providing energy, innovation and leadership for the future of Quaker advocacy. As I write this report, FCNL is preparing to host Spring Lobby Weekend, at which more than 150 high school and college students from around the country will learn, through skill building and policy seminars, about Quakers and government, public policy advocacy and how Congress works. This year our young adults will be lobbying Congress for repeal of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force. By creating opportunities for young people to engage in peace and social justice policy during the formative years of their lives, FCNL is ensuring that Friends’ values will help shape public policy for years to come.
We are thankful for the meetings and churches, yearly meetings and individuals who provide FCNL with sustained and vital support. We are convinced by our faith and experience to continue building the peaceful, just, equitable and sustainable global community we seek. Above all, we seek to remain open to where God’s spirit leads us.
DeAnne Butterfield, Clerk
FCNL General Committee, March 2014
FCNL’s staff and volunteers work with a nationwide network of thousands of people to advocate for social and economic justice, peace, care for the earth and good government. The following is a list of some of the issues that have been the focus of our work in 2013-2014:
Words into Action in Central African Republic: FCNL played a behind-the-scenes leadership role in connecting on-the-ground relief groups and conflict prevention experts with members of Congress and the administration. FCNL coordinated and drafted a policy document signed by nine colleague organizations urging a comprehensive U.S. government strategy to address the violence in the Central African Republic. The document was used by FCNL staff, who worked closely with the administration to help form the White House response to this ongoing crisis.
Campaign Finance: Last month, the 18 faith communities of the Faith and Democracy Working Group, including Quakers, sent a letter to Congress urging support for a Constitutional amendment to repair the damage done by the Citizens United case. FCNL co-convened the group that last fall finished brief reports on three topical areas where money in politics has skewed or prevented congressional debate on issues of importance to faith groups. The selected topics were climate change, gun violence and private prisons.
Hope for Averting War: FCNL’s persistent and strategic lobbying on Capitol Hill has helped keep the door open for diplomacy with Iran. The historic first-step nuclear deal with Iran is significant movement toward a final agreement to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. FCNL lobbyists in Washington have worked closely with administration officials and congressional offices to support negotiations with Iran. Grassroots advocates have been in regular contact with members of Congress to support these steps toward peace and security in the Middle East. We believe that these new diplomatic talks are the best opportunity in more than 30 years to end the cycle of confrontation between our countries.
Advocating for Rebalanced Federal Budget Priorities: The FCNL community worked very hard on the $850 billion reduction in Pentagon spending over 10 years that Congress approved. Yet the military budget is still far too bloated at a time when funds for necessary domestic programs are dwindling. We continue to press assertively for better budget priorities that serve human and community needs.
A New Approach to Climate Disruption: FCNL is partnering with faith, citizen, diversity and youth communities on the local, state and national level to ask elected representatives to acknowledge the reality and impact of climate disruption as a moral issue. FCNL advances the shared concern for and commitment to Creation and lifts the voices of people of faith, young people and people from communities directly affected by climate disruption. Through this lens of a shared future, the initiative strives to minimize partisanship and create political space for meaningful legislative solutions.
Repeal of the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF): We have the best opportunity in more than 12 years to roll back the law that has kept our country in an endless war since 2001. Passed immediately after the 9/11 attacks, the AUMF has been used to justify not only the war in Afghanistan but also everything from indefinite detentions at Guantanamo Bay, to a growing number of drone attacks, to widespread warrantless wiretapping. This year we are working hard to repeal the AUMF in the House through intensive Hill lobbying and a focused mobilization around the country.
The strength of our Quaker lobby in the public interest is our grounding in the Religious Society of Friends. This past year our community’s engagement was particularly visible in
- Our first Quaker Public Policy Institute and Lobby Day: some 300 Friends came to Washington in November to lobby their members of Congress to cut $1 trillion in Pentagon spending;
- The 241 Friends meetings and churches around the country that contributed to setting our legislative priorities and the many Friends gatherings that are using corporate discernment to help improve our policy statement;
- The FCNL contacts and letter writing coordinators at some 650 meetings and churches around the country that faithfully engage local Friends in the educational and public policy work of our community;
- The thousands of Friends who are a part of this Spirit-led Quaker organization that celebrates in 2013 its 70th year of service to the Religious Society of Friends.
Our community’s combination of prophetic, practical public policy advocacy is as necessary today as it ever has been. With the support of meetings and churches around the country, we have been able to
- Persuade Congress to terminate $6 billion of funding for a new nuclear weapons plant;
- Lobby Congress to “undeclare” war with Iran: the 2012 military authorization bill stated explicitly that “nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of force against Iran;”
- Mobilize interfaith leaders to press Congress to address climate disruption;
- Keep significant cuts to military spending on the table in congressional debates about the federal budget;
- Continue our Kenya Quaker collaboration focused on preventing violence and educating U.S. policymakers and constituents on the positive role they can play supporting peace in the 2013 Kenyan elections;
- Join interfaith action calls for strong congressional action on gun violence prevention.
Since 1943 FCNL’s reputation on Capitol Hill has been grounded in the credibility of our information and the integrity with which we approach the practice of influencing public policy. FCNL’s powerful combination of skilled staff lobbyists and energized and mobilized grassroots community members work together and celebrate many legislative accomplishments every year. Here are some examples of how we do what we do.
Advancing a World Free of Nuclear Weapons: After identifying the very small number of members of Congress who have the most influence on decisions about nuclear weapons policies, FCNL staff mobilized hundreds of constituents in the districts and states of these members to successfully defeat efforts to build a new nuclear weapons laboratory and to increase funding for nonproliferation programs.
Peacefully Preventing Deadly Conflict: FCNL created and convenes a Washington Working Group of 30 human rights and peacebuilding organizations that helped persuade the U.S. government to create the first ever interagency, governmental group focused on preventing mass atrocities. Now that coalition is helping to set the priorities for the new Atrocities Prevention Board and to build support within the administration and Congress.
Ending War and Questioning Drones: FCNL’s Afghanistan program celebrated its greatest victory to date in late 2012 with the passage of a Senate amendment calling for the expedited withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, 18 months ahead of the December 2014 timetable. We continue to press Congress to develop strategies to prevent war with Iran and work to support peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Our staff is also taking a leadership role in congressional efforts to question the expanded use of drones.
Native American Advocacy: FCNL’s Native American Legislative Update is sent to thousands of activists every month. Their lobbying helped convince Congress to pass the HEARTH Act (Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act) which makes it easier for tribal governments to lease their lands without first having to obtain specific approval from the Secretary of the Department of the Interior. This was the most sweeping land-use reform of its kind in 50 years. FCNL lobbied for the successful passage of a strong Violence Against Women Act that included protections for Native American women and other vulnerable groups.
Acting on Global Warming: FCNL is a lead organizer of a new interfaith coalition to raise the moral voice in Washington on climate change. In December we sponsored a well-attended briefing on climate change for members of Congress, congressional staff and faith leaders from around the country. More than 100 young people attended Spring Lobby Weekend in March 2013 to focus on Climate Action: From Protest to Policy Change.
Steps Toward Immigration Reform: FCNL staff members see huge opportunities for progress toward enacting comprehensive immigration reform in 2013. Our staff has met with the White House Domestic Policy Council and key congressional leaders and are now working to advance positive measures to reform our broken immigration system and challenge laws that are punitive, wasteful or dangerous.
We are grateful for the faithful support of the many Quaker meetings and churches, individual donors, and foundations which allow FCNL to turn the visionary priorities set by the FCNL General Committee into successful legislative change in national policy. We rely on your support. Your continued and growing financial contributions to FCNL assure that our engagement on Capitol Hill and throughout our network will be effective and strong.
In the months ahead FCNL will continue to balance strategic activism with a relentless pursuit of change. On behalf of the General Committee, thank you to all Friends for your many contributions of time, energy, and dollars which make FCNL’s work possible.
A.T. Miller, Clerk
FCNL General Committee, March 2013
This has been an active year for BYM participation in matters relating to FCNL.
At the BYM Annual Meeting in Frostburg, MD in August 2011, FCNL program assistant Kathy Zager and FCNL General Committee member Bob Rhudy (Patapsco Friends Meeting) led a discussion on FCNL and grassroots lobbying by Friends in support of FCNL priorities.
FCNL program assistant Lena Garrettson and Bob Rhudy presented a similar workshop on FCNL and grassroots lobbying at Annapolis Friends Monthly Meeting on October 23, 2011.
Over twenty BYM representatives and Friends attended the FCNL Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. on November 3-6, 2011 and participated in a BYM regional planning workshop on November 5th that focused on increasing support for FCNL's priorities and activities by our meetings and members.
On March 11, 2012, FCNL General Committee members Stan Becker (Homewood), Arthur Meyer Boyd (Stony Run) and Bob Rhudy lead a discussion at Chesapeake Quarterly Meeting to encourage meetings to participate in FCNL's bi-annual public policies priorities process.
A number of BYM monthly meetings, including (among others) Alexandria, Homewood, and Langley Hill submitted their priorities recommendations by the April 16th deadline to FCNL's Priorities Committee.
On May 2012, the FCNL Executive Committee approved a Minute encouraging Friends around the country to support the Budget Control Act of 2011 that requires a reduction in proposed Pentagon spending of $1 trillion over 10 years, which will become law unless reversed by Congressional action by the end of 2012. The FCNL Executive Committee Minute encourages Friend's meetings and churches to minute endorsement of this action, encourage Friends to communicate their support for this action to the pubic and Congress, and encourage Friends within their meetings to contact their elected officials to report this message.
FCNL Executive Secretary Diane Randall will give the Carey Lecture at BYM's Annual Meeting in Frostberg on Friday evening, August 3rd.
Robert J. Rhudy, (Patapsco) Coordinator
To Friends Everywhere
The Importance of Friends Lobbying in the Public Interest in 2010-2011
Program Report from the Friends Committee on National Legislation
We Seek a World Free of War and The Threat of War
We Seek a Society with Equity and Justice for All
We Seek a Community Where Every Person’s Potential May be Fulfilled
We Seek an Earth Restored
In 2011, FCNL’s powerful combination of skilled staff lobbyists and an energized grassroots Quaker network throughout the country is working together to protect the world from nuclear weapons, to end the war in Afghanistan, to invest in the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict, and to mobilize a national effort to make real cuts in Pentagon spending. Here in Washington and at Friends Meetings and Churches around the country, Quakers are building bridges of understanding with Muslims, are working together for real reform of our nation’s broken immigration laws, and are championing effective solutions to address global greenhouse gas pollution.
FCNL offers an advocacy witness by Friends in our nation’s capital and the Quaker community is recognized and respected in Washington as a leader for peace and justice. We invite Friends everywhere to strengthen their connection with the FCNL community by reading our FCNL Washington Newsletter, visiting our website www.fcnl.org, signing up and taking action through our email updates from Washington, or making a contribution.
Here are some of the accomplishments of the FCNL community:
Advancing a World Free of Nuclear Weapons: After an intense, 16 month campaign in key states, FCNL won on ratification of the New START treaty. The final Senate ratification vote of 71 to 26 was a huge success. It mobilized a Senate super majority in favor of international engagement as the path to greater security for our country. It sets the stage for work to prevent cuts in nuclear nonproliferation funding and ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Preventing War: FCNL won – unanimously – on passage of a critical Genocide Prevention resolution in the Senate. S.Con.Res. 71 calls on the U.S. government to take specific steps to prevent genocides and mass atrocities before they happen. FCNL worked closely with Senate staff on the resolution and helped build its bipartisan list of 22 cosponsors. Now we will be proposing further congressional actions, as part of a multi-year legislative campaign to improve U.S. capacities to peacefully prevent deadly conflict.
War Is Not the Answer: The U.S. “shock and awe” security policy is not working. After a decade of continuous war, increasing numbers of people are reacting against the violence and cost of a military-based solution to conflict. More than 160 members of Congress last year voted against sustaining the Afghanistan war. By early 2011, we saw growing bipartisan support to end the failed war strategy in Afghanistan. We at FCNL are lobbying Congress to call for an end to that war and to put in place policies to prevent conflict and encourage effective development.
Local Action to Advance Human Needs and Reduce Military Spending: Across the country, local elected officials, religious leaders, community groups, union officials, Quaker meetings and churches, and many other groups are urging Congress to cut the military budget. Our Nation’s Checkbook, an FCNL Campaign to spend our tax dollars more wisely, is focusing education and organizing efforts in Michigan, Iowa, Washington and Florida where we see a groundswell of public support for new federal budget priorities.
Congress Approved Cobell Settlement for Native Americans: After decades of advocacy and litigation, the way finally cleared for hundreds of thousands of Native Americans to receive the money that the federal government owes them for the use of their land. FCNL worked steadily for years with our Native American colleagues to achieve justice in this case.
Acting on Global Warming: With FCNL’s lobbying, the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal (CLEAR) Act (S. 2877), emerged in 2010 as a principal bipartisan alternative to the ineffective cap-and-trade approach that had previously been the focus of congressional action. FCNL’s lobbyists are working in 2011 to protect the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gas pollution and support the reintroduction of CLEAR, among other priorities.
Constituent Action FCNL provided the tools for tens of thousands of people to lobby Congress and start conversations in their communities about the world we hope for. More than 17,000 people contacted their elected officials through our website in 2010, sending more then 156,000 communications to their elected officials. We distributed 355,000 War Is Not the Answer signs and bumper stickers in 2010.
Legislative Priorities Set By Friends As has been our practice for 67 years, FCNL’s policy and legislative priorities are guided by the discernment of Friends across the country. Many Friends meetings and churches worshipped together to consider priorities for our lobbying work for the 112th Congress (2011-2012). FCNL’s General Committee approved priorities in November at our Annual Meeting in Washington, DC and you can review the full text on our website at www.fcnl.org/priorities/priority_112th.htm.
The Vital Financial Support of Friends The prudent stewardship of our operations helped FCNL weather the worldwide economic crisis that battered many nonprofit organizations. We are grateful for the faithful support of meetings, churches and the thousands of individual donors whose contributions form the bulk of our annual income. Yet our funding remains at a level that is not yet sufficient to allow FCNL to take advantage of all the opportunities we see for change. Your continued and growing support for FCNL assures that our engagement on Capitol Hill and throughout our network will be effective and strong. We rely on your support.
Leadership and Change In March 2011, our community completed a wonderful, spirit-led, three year process of moving from the leadership of our long-time Executive Secretary Joe Volk to Friend Diane Randall. A long-time member of Hartford Monthly Meeting, New England Yearly Meeting, Diane brings a lifelong commitment to social justice and years of experience in nonprofit management to her new position. The FCNL community celebrates Joe’s years of service and the strong, vibrant organization that he has been a part of creating and we are eager to introduce Friends everywhere to Diane.
On behalf of the General Committee, thank you to all Friends for your many contributions of time, energy, and dollars which make FCNL’s work possible.
G. Dorsey Green, Clerk
FCNL General Committee, March 2011