A Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest
- Ending the War in Afghanistan: In December, the Senate for the first time passed legislation supporting an end to the war. Speaking after the vote, lead sponsor Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) credited FCNL and several of our allies for leading a "smart, engaged, fierce grassroots effort" to see this amendment passed. The provision didn't become law but demonstrates growing bipartisan support in Congress for a responsible U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
- Building the Movement to Reduce Military Spending: Fiscal pressures and constituent lobbying have persuaded Congress to put cuts in Pentagon spending on the table. After a decade in which war spending nearly doubled, Congress is now on track to cut the Pentagon budget by nearly $1 trillion over the next ten years. FCNL is the go-to group in Washington for lobbying on Pentagon spending cuts, leads effort to link Pentagon spending cuts to protecting other human needs priorities, and is mobilizing grassroots lobbyists in key states and districts to ensure that Congress doesn't reverse the planned cuts in Pentagon spending.
- Preserving U.S. Investments in War Prevention:
FCNL took action when the House voted earlier this year to eliminate funding for State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development efforts to prevent deadly conflict. We mobilized our constituents and other networks to successfully protect the Complex Crises Fund and the U.S. Institute of Peace. These small but vital programs are part of a broader U.S. government effort to promote diplomacy, development and international cooperation which will be in danger of funding cuts again in 2012.
- Preventing Atrocities and Genocide: In December, 29 senators from both parties signed a letter to the president calling for U.S. leadership to prevent mass atrocities. Many of the cosponsors of that letter found out about this initiative from FCNL constituents, who lobbied in support of this letter during our lobby day in early November. FCNL has lobbied for greater interagency cooperation to prevent atrocities and genocide for more than two years. We worked to pass a resolution on genocide prevention in 2010 and supported the president's August 2011 decision to create an Atrocities Prevention Board.
- Protecting the EPA: In the absence of congressional action, new Environmental Protection Agency regulations to reduce mercury levels in our environment and begin to control greenhouse gas pollution are an effective response to global warming. When Congress tried to strip the EPA of its authority to establish these regulations, FCNL helped to lead faith community lobbying in support of the agency’s regulations and mobilized people around the country to support the EPA. In a key vote in April all the Senate amendments to curtail the EPA’s authority were defeated. But polluting industries and their allies will be back and FCNL will be there.
- Iraq: War is Not the Answer: The closing of the last U.S. military base in Iraq on December 31, 2011 ends a chapter in one of the most costly and divisive wars in this century. FCNL’s work over the past 8 years to focus attention on the war through our War Is Not the Answer campaign, to build congressional opposition to a long-term U.S. presence through permanent bases, and to support a timeline for withdrawal from Iraq played a significant role in ending this war.
- Senate Ratifies New START Treaty: The vision of a world free of nuclear weapons moved closer to reality in December 2010 when the Senate ratified the new Strategy Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia. The New START Treaty will reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons in both countries and reestablish verficiation visits. Working in Washington and around the country, FCNL led efforts to secure the 67 votes necessary to ratify the treaty in the Senate
- Congress Approves Cobell Settlement: This December success clears the way 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 for years with Elouise Cobell, the plaintiff, to achieve justice in this case.
- Senate Moves to Prevent Violent Conflict: In mid-December 2010 the Senate approved a resolution calling on the U.S. government to take specific steps to prevent genocides and mass atrocities before they happen. FCNL supported the introduction of the resolution and worked to build its bipartisan list of 22 cosponsors.This resolution by itself won't prevent such violence, but it strengthens our country's ability to peacefully prevent deadly conflict.
- Improving Native American Health Care: For more than ten years FCNL has lobbied to improve access to and availability of health care services among Native Americans. Our work has been recognized by the leading Native American organization in Washington, DC. The Indian Health Care Improvement Act was included in the health insurance reform bill that President Obama signed into law on March 23, 2010.
- More Money for Stopping the Spread of Nukes: Two key congressional committees gave a big boost in late July to the administration's efforts to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of violent extremist groups. Both committees fully funded the administration's request for a 27 percent increase for two Energy Department programs to secure vulnerable nuclear materials in other countries.
- Support Grows for Flexible Funding to Prevent War: For nearly a decade, FCNL's Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict program has encouraged the U.S. government to establish a rapid response fund for civilian agencies to help prevent and mitigate violent conflict. Last year, our lobbying finally succeeded in securing the first ever funding ($50 million) for just such a fund for the State Department and USAID: the Complex Crises Fund. This new flexible fund has already been used to address conflicts in countries such as Kenya and Kyrgyzstan. This year, our lobbying succeeded in generating increased bipartisan support for the Complex Crises Fund and a small increase in the fund for 2011, no small feat in an era of tight budgets. Unfortunately, the Continuing Resolution passed by the House in February to fund the federal government until the end of fiscal year 2011 would completely zero out funding for the Complex Crises Fund, as well as the U.S. Institute of Peace
- Setting the Baseline for Congressional Action to Address Global Warming: The Carbon Limits and Energy for America's Renewal (CLEAR) Act, introduced by Sens. Maria Cantwell (WA) and Susan Collins (ME), creates a sensible path to a low-carbon economy while protecting middle- and low- income U.S. residents from increased energy prices. With FCNL's lobbying, this legislation has emerged as the principal bipartisan alternative to the ineffective cap-and-trade approach that has been the focus of congressional action in the last two years.
- Strengthening Public Safety in Indian Country: President Barack Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order Act in late July, legislation that will improve public safety in Indian Country and provide new tools to address the safety of women. It establishes specific funding, guidelines, and programs to address such issues in Indian Country as alcohol and drug abuse, domestic and sexual violence, lack of law enforcement, complicated jurisdictional issues, and overcrowded detention facilities. FCNL worked with leaders in the faith community to lobby for passage of this legislation.
- Rebuilding Democracy through Local Action: Change is possible in Washington, and you can make it happen through FCNL. 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. Find about how people in Michigan, Iowa, Washington state, and Florida are leading a groundswell of public support for new federal budget priorities through the Our Nation's Checkbook campaign.
- Building Support for a New Policy in Afghanistan>: The president has said U.S. troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan by July 2011, but Congress keeps voting more money for war. In the last year, FCNL has helped to increase the number of members of Congress demanding a U.S. exit strategy from Afghanistan and continued to build a congressional consensus in favor of a new strategy. In July, 162 representatives voted to require the Obama administration to prepare an exit strategy, including a timetable to bring U.S. troops home. A year ago, 138 members of the House voted for a less stringent measure.
- Health Insurance Reform: FCNL lobbied for health insurance reforms that would assure access to health care that is affordable, comprehensive, for everyone, and funded by progressive taxes. The health insurance reform legislation that President Obama signed in March 2010 is not perfect, but it meets many of these criteria.
- In December, Congress passed legislation that included a new fund to help peacefully prevent deadly conflict. The Complex Crises Fund provides the U.S. Agency for International Development with $50 million that can be used quickly to prevent crises or respond to unforeseen or emerging crises.
- We helped convince Congress to formally recognize the U.S.-Iraq agreement, which obliges the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq by December 31, 2011 and requires the Pentagon to provide quarterly reports on the progress of the withdrawal.
- FCNL built coalitions to improve weak legislation in Congress that would not adequately address the problem of global warming. At the same time, our lobbyist also worked with senators to advance an alternative bill that would be more effective. In December, Senators Maria Cantwell (WA) and Susan Collins (ME) introduced bipartisan legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions, would refund the majority of pollution revenues to consumers, and wouldn't favor one technology or industry over another.
- More than 17,000 people contacted their elected officials through our website in 2009, sending nearly 170,000 communications to their elected officials. We distributed more than 120,000 War Is Not the Answer signs and bumper stickers in the past year.
- FCNL alerted House leaders to the addition of an extra $1 billion in new funding for the nation's nuclear weapons infrastructure into the economic stimulus package. This money was taken out before the bill became law.
- The omnibus spending bill signed by President Obama in early March effectively bans the export of cluster bombs by the United States. FCNL coordinated the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs for the past several years and led the lobbying effort in support of the ban.
- When the Senate slashed from the economic stimulus package funding that would have helped low-income families better insulate their homes and improve the efficiency of their electrical and other systems, FCNL organized the faith community to lobby for more money. The final bill, signed by the president in late February, includes $5 billion in funding.
- In February Congress voted against the E-Verify system, which would have requiried thousands of employers to run costly and unreliable background checks on workers hired with economic stimulus money. FCNL lobbied against this program for months.
- The United States will soon have 500 more diplomats at embassies around the world. In late winter the House approved funding to fill the empty desks, and in early March the Senate and President Obama followed suit. FCNL has lobbied to fully staff U.S. embassies as a first step to building the U.S. peace toolbox and preventing deadly conflict.
- Hundreds of tons of nuclear weapons materials are stored in inadequately secured facilities in Russia and as many as 20 other countries. Congress has approved a large increase in funds to speed the cleanup of radioactive material that could fall into the hands of violent extremist groups. FCNL lobbying over several years has helped gradually increase the funding, now nearly $400 million.
- Almost 3 million more children in low-income families will benefit from the Child Tax Credit, and an additional 10 million will receive a larger credit, thanks to the economic recovery package Congress passed in February. FCNL lobbied to lower the income at which families become eligible for the credit, which in the final bill is $3,000 a year.
- Both the House and Senate did not fund the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW), a new nuclear weapon. program in the military authorization bill. FCNL's Quaker Nuclear Disarmament Program helped lead the lobbying effort. This is the second year in a row that FCNL lobbying has helped block funding for new nuclear weapons.
- Meeting in May in Dublin, Ireland, representatives from more than half the world’s nations agreed to a new international treaty that commits their governments to ban the production, use, stockpiling, and export of all existing cluster munitions. Although the United States didn’t attend the negotiations, FCNL’s lobbying helped persuade 5 more senators to cosponsor legislation that would effectively ban U.S. cluster munitions. In addition, our lobbyist helped persuade a U.S. senator to attend the negotiations to demonstrate support within the United States for a cluster bomb ban.
- In early March, the House passed by voice vote the Reconstruction and Stabilization Civilian Management Act (H.R. 1084), which would authorize the creation of standby groups of civilian specialists with diverse skills and the capability to rapidly deploy in a crisis to prevent weak states from collapsing or to rebuild war-torn states. FCNL has been one of the few groups in Washington lobbying for this legislation as part of our Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict program.
- In late February the Senate voted 83 to 10 to dramatically improve health care for nearly 2 million Native Americans by passing the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (S. 1200). Congress has not reauthorized the act in 13 years, leaving healthcare services for Native Americans grossly outdated and inadequate. Shortly after the vote, the National Congress of American Indians recognized FCNL's contribution to lobbying on these issues in an award ceremony in Washington.
- FCNL now has more than 350 "War Is Not the Answer" yard sign distributors and has sent out more than 400,000 "War Is Not the Answer" signs in the past 6 years. We distributed more than twice as many signs and bumper stickers in 2007 as we did in 2006. See where "War Is Not the Answer" is spreading across the country, order your own sign, and put yourself on the map!
- The Energy Department in December 2008 abandoned plans for a new plant that would dramatically expand the U.S. ability to build nuclear weapons. FCNL led the lobbying effort to stop funding for this proposal and Congress started asking questions about why the U.S. needed a new facility.
- President-elect Barack Obama has agreed to "carefully review" the Bush administration's decision not to sign the international treaty that would ban the production, trade, and use of cluster bombs. FCNL led a successful two year campaign to win bipartisan support for legislation to ban cluster bombs in Congress and lobbied hard to persuade the Obama campaign to reconsider the policy.
- In June, House leaders reportedly pledged to "fast track" legislation that urged the president to initiate an international blockade on Iran, prevent Iranian diplomats from traveling, and possibly provoke a war. FCNL spent the next 4 months intensely lobbying against the bill, H. Con. Res. 362, and helped convince 5 representatives to remove their names from the legislation, a rare step. Despite gaining cosponsorship from more than half the House, the bill is now unlikely to pass the House this year.
- For the third year in a row, Congress approved the FCNL-initiated proposal to ban the U.S. government from establishing permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.
- A one-year moratorium on cluster bomb exports was set to expire on September 30, 2008. In the waning hours of the 110th Congress, members included an extension of the ban on the export of most types of cluster bombs. While this extension is short term, it provides another clear victory for FCNL's campaign to ban cluster bombs.
- FCNL’s Quaker Nuclear Disarmament Program led the lobbying strategy that resulted in four separate committees in Congress zeroing out funding for a new, multi-billion nuclear bomb plant. The program is effectively discontinued.
- For the second year in a row, Congress approved the FCNL-initiated proposal to ban the U.S. government from establishing permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.
- FCNL’s Quaker Nuclear Disarmament Program led the lobbying strategy that resulted in Congress approving omnibus legislation which includes a provision eliminating all funding for the administration’s proposed new nuclear bomb, the “Reliable Replacement Warhead” program (RRW).
- Congress approved, and the president signed, omnibus legislation which includes a one-year ban on the export of most types of cluster bombs, providing a first clear victory for FCNL’s campaign to ban cluster bombs.
- Congress approved omnibus legislation which increases funding for nuclear nonproliferation to more than $500 million above the president’s budget request.
- Congress approved and the president signed an energy bill that raises vehicle fuel economy standards to 35 miles-per-gallon by 2020 – the first such increase since 1975. The goals set by the legislation fall far short of what is needed to quickly reduce oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions. We at FCNL don’t know whether to cheer or cry.
- Congress approved, and the president signed, omnibus legislation which includes provisions to restore funding for programs providing home heating assistance to the poor, student aid, and supplemental nutrition for poor women, infants, and children that was cut during the last five years. The legislation also increases funding for Indian health services above the levels approved last year.
Half Steps – Progress But no Change in Law Yet
- Majorities in both chambers of Congress approved legislation requiring the U.S. to begin to withdrawal most combat troops from Iraq. The president vetoed the legislation and Congress does not have the two-third majorities in both chambers required to override the veto.
- The Bush administration has been threatening regime change in Iran since 2001, but opposition both within the administration and in Congress is growing. Although Congress approved several dangerous sanctions measures this year, 30 senators signed a letter to the president in November warning against an attack and U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran isn’t working on nuclear weapons.
- After providing the president with sweeping temporary authority in August to spy on people in the United States, the House refused to make the authority permanent and the Senate has also now delayed action on this legislation until 2008.
- The House approved the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 2007 (H.R. 2786) that provides housing for poor indigenous people in tribal communities and Alaskan villages. The House updated the act and authorized $624 million annually for this program designed to provide decent, safe, sanitary, affordable homes. The Senate has not yet voted.
- Both houses approved (twice) legislation that would provide 4 million children of uninsured working poor families with health insurance. The assistance would go to families whose income was too high to qualify for Medicaid and too low to purchase private insurance. The president vetoed the legislation and Congress failed to override the veto.
See more key events from FCNL's history
- After two failed attempts, Congress approved not one but two provisions barring funding for permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. These provisions, which echo FCNL’s Iraq STEP proposal, send an important signal that United States does not intend to permanently occupy Iraq.
- The administration and congressional leaders made several attempts to pass legislation that would legalize the president’s illegal domestic spying program and allow the government to spy on telephone and email communications of people in the U.S. who are not suspected of any crime.
- The Senate refused again in late 2006 to approve the president’s decision to send a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who does not value the work of the world body. When Congress refused to confirm John Bolton’s nomination in 2005, the Bush administration sent him to the United Nations anyway under a temporary appointment. After the second rejection by the Senate in 2006, Bolton announced he would resign. FCNL has opposed Bolton’s nomination because of his record of undermining the work of the United Nations.
- As violence has escalated in Darfur, FCNL has been a key voice for identifying legislative measures that could persuade the U.S. to take a more active role in stopping the genocide. Congress responded by passing the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, legislation that uses economic and political means to pressure the government of Sudan to end this genocide. In the face of continuing violence, lawmakers also approved millions of dollars in additional funding to support the African Union Mission in Sudan.
- In early December Congress approved legislation that will help preserve a core part of the cultural heritage of the United States and ensure the survival of the languages spoken by the first Americans. FCNL joined with Native Americans in lobbying for the Esther Martinez Native American Language Preservation Act of 2006.
- Congress renewed key provisions of the Voting Rights Act in July without harmful amendments, despite last-minute attempts to weaken this landmark civil rights legislation that protects the rights of all citizens to vote for candidates of their choosing. FCNL worked with constituents in key congressional districts to lobby members of Congress.
- Senators Patrick Leahy (VT) and Arlen Specter (PA) introduced legislation in August 2006 that could block Pentagon efforts to develop and produce the first new U.S. victim-activated antipersonnel landmines in nearly a decade. In just three months, the legislation attracted 16 bipartisan cosponsors, providing an important hurdle for new landmine production. FCNL was the national coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and is working to build support in the new Congress for this important legislation.
- For the first time in more than 10 years, members of the House of Representatives voted on the House floor to support an arms control amendment to secure nuclear weapons materials and help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The vote was an important symbolic step, although the legislation did not become law.
- After visiting FCNL’s newly renovated green building on Capitol Hill, Sen. Jim Jeffords (VT) introduced legislation that would require the federal government to set green environmental and energy efficiency standards for the thousands of federal buildings across the country. The bill gained 11 bipartisan cosponsors before Congress adjourned at the end of September. Though this bill did not pass this Congress, it highlighted the debate on energy dependence and the government’s ability to lead the initiative for change.