Over the past year, FCNL’s lobbyists and advocates have worked hard to achieve a wide variety of budget and policy changes—many of them against very long odds.
These victories show that our persistent and prophetic approach is powerful even in this very divisive and challenging political environment.
The House and Senate approved a giant omnibus spending package on March 10. The bill, soon to be signed into law, held some disappointments. It again prioritizes weapons and war increases over meeting basic human needs at home and abroad, omitting emergency funding for the ongoing pandemic response. It also didn’t include some of the priority items we hoped it would, such as immigration reform and repeal of the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).
Nonetheless, there were several clear victories for our advocacy efforts. Here’s where the impact of our collective advocacy showed through:
1. Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act and Funding for Tribal Programs
The $1.5 trillion Omnibus package renews and broadens the Violence Against Women Act to restore tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Natives. This is a massive step forward for Native communities, where domestic and sexual violence occurs at unprecedented rates and cases involving murder or sexual assault frequently go unprosecuted.
The bill expands tribal jurisdiction, improves access to federal crime databases, and increases protections for survivors and their families. It also establishes an Alaska pilot project to finally include Alaska Native Villages in the federal government’s response to the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people.
The spending bill included increased funding for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to support tribal climate resilience, fund the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Initiative, and implement the Indian Boarding School Initiative.
2. Increasing Refugee and Humanitarian Assistance for Ukraine
The Ukraine supplemental appropriations included $1.4 billion in migration and refugee assistance to aid the more than two million who have fled Ukraine due to Russia’s invasion. It also made available $2.65 billion for international disaster assistance for people in Ukraine and the neighboring region, along with food aid and support for diplomatic programs. All in all, more than $6 billion was provided for economic and humanitarian support for the Ukrainian people.
3. Investing in Peacebuilding
The omnibus spending bill featured robust funding for peacebuilding programs. All 13 of the peacebuilding accounts that FCNL advocated for were funded at or above last year’s levels, resulting in a nearly $350 million total increase.
Most encouraging, Congress agreed to double appropriations for the Complex Crises Fund (CCF), enabling USAID to address emerging conflicts before a crisis develops.
Lawmakers raised CCF funding from $30 million to $60 million, meeting the request made by FCNL and the Prevention and Protection Working Group. Additional money was made available for CCF in the special supplemental for Ukraine.
4. Congress Held the Line on Tax Breaks for Corporations
Despite a last-minute effort to attach tax breaks for corporations onto the spending bill, our champions in Congress pressed back successfully. They argued that we should not give corporations tax breaks without tax relief for families—namely, extending the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit expansions.
Progress towards the world we seek can be slow and painstaking. But these clear victories show that our persistent and prophetic approach is powerful even in this very divisive and challenging political environment.