The congressional appropriations process is one of the most important public policy tools we can use to advocate for the world we seek. The budget debates that are playing out in Congress right now will have long-lasting impacts on nearly every facet of FCNL’s work. Together, with thousands of advocates across the country, we’re making FCNL’s voice heard every step of the way.
Using their insights and expertise, FCNL’s lobbyists have developed a set of funding priorities that span a wide range of programs and issue areas. Cumulatively, they’re focused on a shared set of goals: Bolstering human rights and dignity, alleviating suffering, strengthening diplomacy, and reinforcing our nation’s values and global leadership.
Below we detail those priorities and why these investments are essential and achievable steps to move us closer to a better world.
Invest in Peace
To bolster peace and strengthen the United States’ standing as a global partner in preventing and resolving violent conflict through peaceful means, we’re urging Congress to invest in peacebuilding through three key accounts: the Complex Crises Fund, Reconciliation Programs, and Atrocities Prevention. Together, fulling funding these accounts will enable the State Department and USAID to further their critical work of preventing mass atrocities and genocide, responding to early warning signs of violence, and resolving the drivers of conflict.
Further, we are urging Congress to provide robust funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, which provides critically needed food assistance for vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Interrupt Community-Level Violence in the United States
The United States faces an epidemic of gun violence, and neglected communities are enduring some of the worst consequences. We urge Congress to support robust funding for the Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative, with dedicated funding to violence interruption programs. Violence interrupters work to prevent violence before it happens. They minimize deaths, build community trust, and reduce the need for police intervention.
Migration Management Centered on Dignity and Aid for the Vulnerable
The United States suffers from a migration management crisis, not a migration crisis. We need a migration system that centers empathy and dignity. To this end, we urge lawmakers to support more humane and effective alternatives to immigrant detention and fund Alternatives to Detention Case Management operated by nonprofits and refugee resettlement providers, not Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Congress must also invest more in humanitarian aid to support some of the world’s most vulnerable people as they seek refuge in times of crisis. We need significant increases in funding for the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account, which enables the United States to respond to sudden spikes in humanitarian need, the Migration and Refugee Assistance account, which supports families seeking refuge from life-threatening situations, and the International Disaster Assistance account, which enables USAID to respond to humanitarian crises.
Be a Global Partner in Addressing Climate Change
As one of the leading historic emitters of greenhouse gases, the United States has a moral responsibility to act to address the global climate crisis. As countries in the Global South bear the worst impacts of increasing storms, floods, and drought, investments in climate adaptation and assistance can provide energy security, promote peace and stability, and reinforce the United States as a humanitarian force for good. Lawmakers should increase investment in USAID’s climate adaptation programs to improve climate resilience in impacted countries and the Green Climate Fund, the United Nations’ central climate financial assistance mechanism.
No Progress without a Budget Deal
However, none of these priorities will see progress without a bipartisan agreement between the House and Senate on the overall size of the federal budget. Congressional leaders and the White House must come together to negotiate how the United States will allocate its resources.
The priorities above are relatively small investments in the scheme of the federal budget. Still, they have an outsized impact on making the world better, safer, and more peaceful. How we choose to spend our federal dollars shows the world what and whom we value. This is why the federal budget is often called a moral document.
However, right now, some members of Congress are demanding steep spending cuts, ranging from 9% to more than 24% on all spending except the military budget, in return for their votes to pass budget and debt limit legislation. Failure to raise the debt ceiling, forcing the U.S. to default on its obligations, would lead to global economic calamity. These members are effectively holding their parties, and the nation, hostage.
The decisions Congress makes on the federal budget will significantly impact our ability to achieve the world we seek. Now is the time for advocates and lawmakers alike to rise to the moment and work together to agree on a budget that advances peace with justice.