Amid our hopes for legislative progress in 2023, it is important to reflect on our work during the 117th Congress (2021-2023). Key policy wins during that session may help us stay the course in today’s divided Congress.
Victories Despite a Dark Beginning
Two years ago, just days into the 117th Congress, we saw violent insurrectionists attempting to block the peaceful certification of the 2020 presidential election.
When we could have retreated in anger and despair, we pressed on and won several important legislative victories in 2021.
Two months after the attempted coup, the House passed the For the People Act (H.R. 1), legislation designed to improve election integrity by focusing on voting and election laws, campaign finance, and ethics.
Despite some legislative misses, our advocacy has laid the groundwork for important progress in the 118th Congress.
President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (PL 117-58) into law after it passed both the House and Senate earlier that year.
Then, in a major victory for peacebuilding, President Biden also signed the Global Fragility Act (PL 116-94) into law—three years after it passed Congress. As progress on our policy priorities takes a long time, this win encouraged us to continue advocating for the world we seek.
Building on this momentum, 2022 ushered in several additional wins.
First, President Biden signed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) (PL 117-139) into law. It extended this compensation program for individuals sickened by nuclear tests and uranium mining.
Next, our Native American policy work received a boost when the president signed the 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act (PL 117-103), which included the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This long-overdue reauthorization includes critical tribal provisions to address the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous people.
Later, with FCNL’s Advocacy Corps leading our efforts, we made considerable progress toward establishing a Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools (H.R. 5444/S. 2907). Advocacy Corps members will continue to advocate for this issue until July 2023.
After more than 20 years of inaction, President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (PL 117-159) into law in June 2022. This includes key FCNL gun violence prevention priorities. We will continue urging Congress to invest in community violence interrupters—our legislative ask for this year’s Spring Lobby Weekend, March 25–28, 2023.
President Biden ended the summer by signing the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (PL 117-169) into law. This bill contains the most significant climate investments in U.S. history, setting the United States on a path to reduce its carbon emissions by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.
Finally, two days before Christmas, lawmakers passed an omnibus spending bill to fund the government for FY2023. This includes substantial investments in critical peacebuilding accounts and vital protections for pregnant workers. Congress also passed the Electoral Count Reform Act (S.4573), closing a loophole in how our nation certifies elections that the January 6 insurrectionists attempted to exploit.
Work Still to Be Done
Unfortunately, the 117th Congress ended in 2023 leaving key policies unaddressed. It failed to expand the Child Tax Credit (CTC), despite overwhelming public support and the backing of over 100 lawmakers. We will campaign for this tax benefit in the 118th Congress (2023-2025).
Despite our advocacy, Congress also failed to pass the Environmental Justice for All Act (S. 872/H.R. 2021), which aimed to ensure that everyone has the right to clean air, clean water, and healthy soil as we build a clean energy economy.
In December, we came closer than ever to repealing the 2002 Iraq War authorization, with the introduction of bipartisan bills in both chambers and the support of the White House. We will continue urging Congress to remove this outdated, unnecessary, and dangerous legislation from the books in 2023.
FCNL Advocacy Teams dedicated 2022 to ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. They held more than 360 lobby visits and published over 100 media pieces, resulting in dozens of lawmakers now on record supporting the Yemen War Powers Resolution (H.J. Res. 87/S.J. Res. 56). We will continue this work in our quest for peace and nonviolent solutions to conflict.
Despite some legislative misses, our advocacy has laid the groundwork for important progress in the 118th Congress. The start of a new session of Congress is a great time to begin building relationships with legislators. Your voice is especially important as we continue to navigate uncertain political waters.
Visit fcnl.org/congress to get involved.