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“[T]hat’s what FCNL has been bringing: a clear moral voice for change to live up to our highest ideals. It’s admirable; it’s necessary; and it’s the time for it right now in the season of optimism, of hope … for the next few years in our country.”

Julián Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development, during the 2020 Quaker Public Policy Institute.

For many, 2020 has been a year of anger, despair, and uncertainty as we try to make meaning of this devastating pandemic and polarization in the United States. It has been a year when national political leadership was sorely needed and, too often, was absent or malicious.

We are so ready for leadership that puts people first; leaders who speak truth to confront the global challenges we face—from COVID-19 to climate change to economic and racial injustice to war and the threat of war. We are ready for a time of optimism and hope.

We are ready for a time of optimism and hope.

Over 300,000 people have died from COVID-19, and tens of thousands more will die. Yet there is hope: in science and in the vaccines that have been rapidly developed and are already in use. There is hope in the certain knowledge that our lives are connected to the lives of people across the globe. This has a bearing on all the challenges we confront.

We saw Congress respond quickly on a bipartisan basis in March with the CARES Act, pouring billions of dollars into the economy and into the hands of our neighbors who needed help.

You were part of the lobbying for that relief bill.

You continue to participate in our persistent lobbying for the U.S. Senate to act on another desperately needed pandemic relief bill. This will provide unemployment benefits, food assistance, rent relief, and much greater stimulus to local, state, and tribal governments as they respond.

Confronting Police Abuse

In 2020, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery were the latest among hundreds of Black people who died at the hands of the police. They represent a chilling reality of state-sanctioned violence against Black people that is part of our country’s legacy and which continues to this day.

Watching the video of George Floyd’s murder awakened people. For many of us who are white or who had been cynical about change, this injustice and the ensuing Black Lives Matter protests brought a renewed commitment for action to dismantle systemic racism.

More than 600 of you virtually lobbied 80 Senate offices and 151 House offices during our Quaker Public Policy Institute.

We joined many coalition partners in advocating for police reform—specifically the Justice in Policing Act (H.R.7120/S.3912). This passed the House of Representatives in June, although the Senate has yet to act on this important bill.

More than 600 of you from 44 states virtually lobbied 80 Senate offices and 151 House offices, meeting staff and members of Congress during our Quaker Public Policy Institute in November. This was the largest turnout of lobbyists on a single FCNL legislative issue. We will persist in lobbying for this legislation in 2021.

We also responded to the generations-long systemic injustice on our Native American sisters and brothers. FCNL has advocated in solidarity with Native American organizations to urge Congress to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis.

With the help of your sustained advocacy, Congress passed two bills to correct such injustices: Not Invisible Act (P.L. 116-166) and Savanna’s Act (P.L. 116-165). We will persist in the next Congress to advocate for tribal justice provisions in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Democracy Under Siege

Democracy continues to be a work in progress as we live up to our country’s founding principle: all people are created equal. This year, we have seen efforts to deny access to voting and efforts to discount votes.

This suppression and distortion go beyond political polarization. The seemingly endless divide challenges national unity and purpose. And yet, a record-breaking 161 million people voted in the 2020 elections.

At FCNL, we will persist in building our civic education and engagement programs with young adults and people across the country—not only to vote, but to advocate with their members of Congress.

Constitutional Authority for War

We educated congressional offices and advocated with Congress to take back its constitutional power to declare war, which had been ceded to the president in 2001 and 2002. We advocated for repealing these outdated authorizations for the use of military force, in use for almost 20 years, to sanction U.S. military actions across the globe. We will persist in advocating for repeal.

In February, Congress, for the first time, invoked the Vietnam-era War Powers Act to block military action against Iran. Although the president vetoed it, this vote put Congress on record against going to war with Iran and against executive authorization of such a war.

As the 117th Congress starts on January 3, 2021, we are entering a new season of hope and opportunity. With the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, we will see movement on many FCNL legislative priorities.

However, changes in public policy to make our planet sustainable, to end and prevent war, to build peace, to dismantle systemic racism, to create opportunities for immigrants and refugees—these will require your determined passion and advocacy to create a better world.

Speak truth, act from hope, show love. Together we can work for the world we imagine.

Diane Randall

Diane Randall

General Secretary
Diane Randall is the General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. Diane leads FCNL’s staff to effectively educate and lobby for the policies and legislative priorities established by FCNL’s General Committee.

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