As the 118th session of the United States Congress begins, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and its network of advocates will be lobbying legislators based on 13 legislative priorities in the next two years. The priorities reflect the discernment of more than 250 Quaker meetings, churches, individuals, and organizations from all over the country.
The FCNL General Committee approved the legislative priorities during its November 2022 annual meeting.
Every two years, preceding the start of a new session of Congress, FCNL asks Friends and their meetings, churches, and other groups all over the country to discern which public policy issues they feel are most pressing.
In developing the legislative priorities for the 118th Congress, FCNL “recognized that we are living through extraordinary times: dire threats to the foundations of our democracy, including attacks on our election infrastructure; an existential global climate crisis; renewed threats of global war; intensified awareness of racial injustice and police brutality; and painful economic turmoil exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The 13 FCNL legislative priorities listed below are not ordered according to their importance:
- Promote peacebuilding and confront the paradigm of global militarism at home and abroad.
- Work towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and, as opportunity occurs, conventional and newly emerging weapons.
- Enhance diplomatic capacity to end current wars and prevent new ones. Reassert Congress’ role in the use of military engagements.
- Advocate for democracy by working to remedy threats to our electoral processes that limit access to voting and undermine open, secure, and fair elections.
- Advocate for a reimagined justice system that is fair, equitable, and transparent for all. Eliminate mass incarceration and police brutality and uphold restorative justice.
- Work to end gun violence. Encourage the use of nonviolent conflict resolution methods and support programs that promote community safety.
- Center the voices of tribal nations, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians as we work together to uphold community rights and concerns. Ensure enforcement of the federal government’s treaty and trust responsibilities to protect tribal sovereignty and enhance tribal self-determination.
- Work for comprehensive immigration reform policies to establish inclusion and prosperity for immigrant communities, regardless of their status. Reject systems and processes that violate fundamental human rights.
- Center the voices of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color as we work together to ensure genuine equity by dismantling institutional racism and discriminatory laws. Promote measures to uncover the truth and repair slavery’s ongoing societal impact.
- Address structural economic inequality, through measures such as a more equitable tax system and a living wage for all, and by repairing and strengthening the social safety net programs.
- Support expansion of programs that meet basic needs, such as affordable, accessible housing and universal access to quality, affordable healthcare.
- Address the existential threat of climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels and harmful land use practices; employ science-based mitigation and adaptation approaches.
- Strengthen environmental protections and advance environmental justice, mitigating both global and local impacts with a particular focus on vulnerable or exploited populations.
With each priority, FCNL will identify, expose, and work to eliminate policies and practices that are racist, sexist, or otherwise discriminatory.
“We are mindful that our nation has a special responsibility to redress the consequences of our history of slavery and genocide, together with ongoing race-based discrimination and oppression,” according to the priorities document (download at fcnl.org/priorities).
As it affirmed the priorities for the 118th Congress, the General Committee also sought the community’s discernment regarding FCNL’s policies on reproductive health care, including abortion. At its annual meeting in November 2023, the committee will consider whether or how to change FCNL’s Policy Statement guidance around these issues.
The Supreme Court‘s June 2022 decision that overturned the constitutional right to abortion prompted Friends to reopen the conversation around what position FCNL might take on this issue.
FCNL’s Policy Statement, The World We Seek, states that “FCNL takes no position and does not act either for or against abortion legislation because Friends are not in unity.”