More than 75 Years of Advocacy
Since 1943, the FCNL community has lobbied Congress to advance peace and justice.
FCNL has worked to realize the world we seek, lobbying Congress and the federal government to advance peace and justice for 75 years. We began lobbying against conscription and for aid to war-torn Europe in the midst of World War II, yet from the beginning Friends had a bigger vision - to plant the seeds of changes for a more peaceful and just world that might take decades to grow. Today, FCNL's work includes many of the issues of concern to Friends, from military spending and racial equality to a more peaceful foreign policy and a healthy environment.
Throughout its history, FCNL has evolved and risen to meet the challenges confronting our country. As we lobby today and look to what's ahead, we know that we were built for these times. Here are some of the highlights of this work.
Protecting Health Care for All
FCNL helps defeat two major Senate proposals to repeal the Affordable Care Act over the summer of 2017, leading up to the Senate's deadline to act on September 30. FCNL lobbyists and grassroots activists meet with Senators and staff, deliver thousands of letters, emails, and phone calls, and write hundreds of letters to the editor in local newspapers. In both cases, repeal narrowly fails, preserving Medicaid and access to health insurance for tens of millions.
Organizing Young Adults To Preserve Medicaid
Just days before a vote to eliminate the Medicaid program as we know it, 400 young advocates came to Washington, DC for FCNL's Spring Lobby Weekend. Through more than 150 lobby vists, they helped convince representatives to stop a vote on this damaging bill.
Pushing to Prevent Genocide and Atrocities
FCNL's lobbyists work with Congress and the State Department to build the United State's capacity and investment in peacebuilding. FCNL leads efforts to pass the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act, a bipartisan bill to enhance the government's capacity to prevent, mitigate, and transform violent conflicts around the world.
Blocking New Pentagon Spending
FCNL helps block legislation that would have increased the Pentagon’s budget by $18 billion. FCNL has worked through decades of increases in military spending to create public space for discussion of reductions and alternatives.
Growing the Climate Solutions Caucus
Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Ted Deutch (D-FL) found the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. The purpose of the caucus is to explore bipartisan policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. Members join in a "Noah's Ark" style, meaning they join "two-by-two," one Republican, one Democrat. FCNL takes the lead in lobbying members of Congress to join the Climate Solutions Caucus, helping the caucus grow to 60 members of Congress by October, 2017.
Building Consensus on Climate Change
A decade of Republican silence on climate change ends with the introduction of Rep. Chris Gibson's climate resolution. Gibson was joined by more than a dozen other Republicans who committed to congressional action on this issue. FCNL coached interfaith lobbying groups to advocate with key members to build support for this resolution.
Proving that Diplomacy Works with Iran
Forty-two senators voted to support a nuclear deal with Iran, enabling it to take effect and reducing the chances of another U.S. war in the Middle East. FCNL helped mobilize grassroots advocates, nuclear experts, and faith groups to advocate for this deal, which President Obama negotiated in 2015.
Organizing for Climate Action
Eighteen young adults make up FCNL's first Advocacy Corps class. Working in their local communities with FCNL's support, these organizers succeed in bringing new support to climate change legislation.
Each year, FCNL welcomes young adults ages 19-30 to participate in the Advocacy Corps program for nine months. Participants connect local activists and leaders with their members of Congress while learning and applying critical organizing and leadership skills. Organizers earn a $3000 stipend for successful work.
Training Young Adult Advocates
FCNL formalizes its summer internship program for college students and other young adults ages 18-23. Summer interns spend eight weeks working at FCNL fulltime throughout June and July, offering support to FCNL programs and participating in networking and professional development opportunities. Interns are paid a stipend of $3600 for their work.
Resisting War With Syria
With the U.S. dangerously close to military action in Syria, FCNL visits 400 congressional offices in a two-week period, pushing for a diplomatic solution. Ultimately, Congress refuses to grant the president a new Authorization for Use of Military Force to attack Syria, and the U.S. and Syria eventually agree on a deal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons.
Cutting Pentagon Spending
FCNL helps convince Congress to cut the Pentagon budget by nearly $1 trillion over 10 years by training hundreds to lobby on Capitol Hill, mobilizing domestic needs-focused national groups, and sending staff to nine states to organize and train constituents.
Focusing on Atrocities Prevention
Responding in large part to lobbying led by FCNL, President Obama announces the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board to help prevent mass violence. This board provides a forum for military, intelligence, and diplomatic leaders to collaborate and develop strategies to prevent genocide and mass atrocities.
Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States. Our security is affected when masses of civilians are slaughtered, refugees flow across borders, and murderers wreak havoc on regional stability and livelihoods.Presidential Study Directive 10
Investing in Young Adults
FCNL launches a major new initiative to support the next generation of advocates. More than half the funds raised through The World We Seek: Now Is the Time capital campaign will go towards current and new opportunities for young people to develop as leaders for peace and justice.
FCNL creates rich opportunities for young Quakers to live into their faith and create real change by lobbying on the issues most important to them.Annie Boggess, FCNL Program Assistant 2012-2013
Advocating for a New START on Nuclear Weapons
FCNL directs the advocacy that leads the Senate to ratify the New START Treaty. The Treaty aims to significantly reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons in Russia and the United States. Constituents, Senators, and the White House use swing lists of legislators developed by FCNL as the strategic basis for much of their advocacy work.
Including Native American Health in the Affordable Care Act
FCNL lobbies for the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which improves access to health insurance and expands Medicaid to cover millions more low-income Americans. After years of FCNL lobbying Congress to protect and expand access to health care for Native Americans, Congress includes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act in the ACA, authorizing that program permanently.
Bringing Young Adults to Lobby in DC
FCNL welcomes hundreds of young adults and others to come to Washington D.C. in March for their first annual Spring Lobby Weekend. Attendees learn how to be effective changemakers by lobbying on an important federal issue. Participants hear from policy experts and high-profile speakers, lobby members of Congress and their staff and get a crash course in impactful advocacy techniques.
Stopping New Nuclear Weapons
FCNL leads lobbying efforts to oppose funding for a new nuclear weapon, the "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator." Thanks to FCNL's lobbying, and following intense debate in Congress, the Bush administration withdraws their budget request for the new weapon, and the Senate drops funding for the bomb from the budget.
Opening the First Green Building on Capitol Hill
FCNL moves back into its building, the first green construction on Capitol Hill, which serves as a witness to our commitment to an Earth restored. The building received a Silver LEED certification in 2007.
Asserting that War Is Not the Answer
The day after the 9/11 attacks, FCNL issues a statement urging the U.S. not to meet violence with more violence. We display this message on our building and on bumper stickers: “War Is Not the Answer.” Over the next decade, tens of thousands of people take up this message, expressing their opposition to the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and search for a way to break cycles of war and violence.
Organizing Against Arms Sales
Congress passes the International Code of Conduct Act, which calls for the U.S. to adopt a code of conduct on arms transfers. Since 1993, FCNL has led the coalition of NGOs and advocacy groups working to develop a strict set of arms export criteria that would prevent nations from providing military assistance or exporting weapons to countries engaged in abusive practices.
Protecting Immigrants' Rights to Assistance
FCNL works with other faith and domestic advocacy organizations to convince Congress to restore access to food support to immigrants. Two years earlier, Congress had stripped food support from 250,000 immigrants as part of their welfare reform bill.
Standing Against Chemical Weapons
FCNL is instrumental in helping to ratify the UN Convention on Chemical Weapons. This UN arms control treaty outlaws the production and use of chemical weapons and leads to the destruction of 93% of the world's declared stockpile of chemical weapons.
Fostering International Action on Environmental Protection
Leading up to the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Brazil, FCNL plays a key role, meeting with administration officials and working with congressional offices and NGOs as the U.S. prepares its position. Also known as the Rio Earth Summit, this international meeting produces many landmark environmental resolutions, including an agreement not to cause environmental or cultural degradation on the lands of indigenous peoples, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Convention on Climate Change, which became a framework for the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Climate Accords.
FCNL's Ruth Flower chairs the Domestic Human Needs Working Group of Interfaith Action for Economic Justice. Flower's leadership proves to be central during the wefare reform debate in Congress, in which Faith Lobbies, led by FCNL, advocated for more generous and less punitive legislation. Ultimately, the reform includes many of the improvements sought by FCNL.
Bridging Anti-Poverty and Environmental Action
As tensions around the subject of economic development escalate between those concerned primarily with environmental protection and those concerned with alleviating global poverty, the World Bank turns to FCNL as an organization whose priorities include both. FCNL consults with the World Bank and ultimately recommends that economic development projects are best suited to lift up communities of poverty and ensure the preservation of local environments when communities are given as much control over development decisions as possible.
Talking with the Soviets
FCNL organizes the U.S.-Soviet Working Group, which compiles a draft "Exchange for Peace Resolution" in consultation with members of Congress and State Department officials. FCNL lobbies the U.S. ambassador and the State Department to consider the draft resolution ahead of the Reykjavik summit in Iceland in 1986. Ultimately, the draft resolution contributes to a framework for thawed relations between the Soviet Union and the U.S.
Advocating for Health Care Improvements for Native Americans
FCNL leads on lobbying for the rights of Native American. Central to FCNL's efforts is the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which passes Congress in 1976. The bill authorizes the Indian Health Service to bill Medicare and Medicaid and appropriates $1.6 Billion for improvements to the IHS.
Speaking Out on Energy and Nuclear Power
In a statement on energy and nuclear policy, FCNL emphasizes conservation, renewable energy resources, and a moratorium on construction of new nuclear power plants.
Working to End Vietnam War Funding
Ed Snyder leads efforts to cancel the appropriations of $474 million to South Vietnamese military, expediting an end to the U.S. war in Vietnam.
Founding of Washington Office on Latin America
Diane Edwards LaVoy, one of the first participants in FCNL's new internship program, helps found the Washington Office on Latin America immediately after her time at FCNL. WOLA is dedicated to connecting policymakers in Washington, DC with those with on-the-ground experiences of Latin America and is an important organization working on human rights.
Building Support for Human Rights
FCNL submits detailed proposals on human rights to Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford ahead of the 1972 election. After his election, President Carter identifies human rights as a core priority in his administration, and FCNL works closely and busily with his administration for the next two years on human rights policy.
Calling for Sustainable Development
As early as the 1970s, FCNL policy statements expressed concerns about the environment and sustainable development.
We call for a durable balance between population and consumption and resources and environment, which will best serve the well-being of present and future generations and preserve the beauty and utility of planet earth.Statement on Sustainable Development
Addressing Conflicts at Sea
FCNL's Sam and Miriam Levering lobby Congress and the U.S. government on the importance of the Law of the Sea Treaty. Sam Levering testifies before Congress in 1972 on the subject, urging the U.S. to "extend the area of peace." The Leverings also help shape the treaty from FCNL's office. In 1980, U.S. Ambassador Eliot Richardson thanks the Leverings for their "dedicated, constructive, resourceful, patient, persistent, and cheerful" efforts. Though the treaty opens for signatures in 1982, the U.S. has not yet ratified it.
Working for Change as Young Quakers
Young Quakers disillusioned and frustrated with the Vietnam war ask FCNL to set up an internship program through which they could focus on Congress. The program continues to this day. Since its inception, hundreds of recent graduates have spent 11 months at FCNL learning to advocate, developing as leaders, and enriching Quaker lobbying.
[FCNL interns] have gone on to use their experience in a variety of national, international, and local work. Often these are young Friends who return to their own meetings or join other Friends meetings, bringing with them intimate knowledge of FCNL and the legislative process.Edward Snyder
Thawing Relations with China
Gene Boardman, FCNL's Friend in Washington, conducts nearly 200 meetings with Members of Congress and Administration officials during his year-long residency. He convinces House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Clement Zablocki (WI) to hold the first congressional hearings on U.S.-China Relations. Senator J. William Fulbright (AR) follows suit, hosting U.S.-China hearings in the Senate Relations Committee that prove pivotal in the path to détente between the U.S. and China.
Helping Congress Create the Peace Corps
Rep. Henry Ruess (WI), the Peace Corps legislative champion, calls FCNL’s role in the Peace Corps’ creation “pivotal.” Since the program's creation, more than 220,000 young Americans have served in 141 countries.
Changing the Narrative on Defense Spending
FCNL begins an 8-year campaign to oppose "civil defense" measures, including a propsed program to build fallout shelters. Though sympathetic to those seeking protection in anxious times, FCNL asserts that "the only defense against nuclear attack is to abolish war itself," and warns that civil defense programs would be costly, inneffective, and innoculate the public to the bitter reality of perpetual war. Through public information campaigns, expert testimony, and concerted lobbying, FCNL convinces Congress to defund the shelter program in 1963 and to end it altogether in 1964.
Defeating Mandatory Military Training
As the Truman and Eisenhower administrations push for required military training for young men, Quakers lead the push to defeat these proposals in Congress. FCNL's decade-long campaign results in the defeat of military training legislation in the House in 1952 and 1955, putting an end to compulsory training efforts.
Starting Out Strong
American Friends Service Committee head Clarence Pickett testifies on November 4 on FCNL's behalf before a Senate committee about the need to provide relief to Europe. The testimony comes just one day after FCNL opened its Washington, DC office with three staff members.
Organizing Quakers to Influence U.S. policies
In the midst of World War II, 52 Friends from 15 Yearly Meetings gather to consider Friends' ability to influence U.S. government decisions related to war and peace. Out of this meeting in Richmond, Indiana, the Friends Committee on National Legislation is born. E. Raymond Wilson is named the first Executive Secretary.
We ought to be willing to work for causes which ... cannot be won in the future unless the goals are staked out now...E. Raymond Wilson