1. Background

Our Progress Towards the World We Seek

By Diane Randall, January 29, 2019

FCNL made important progress during the 115th Congress, despite the prevailing hyper-partisanship. The mission for peace, justice, and sustainability is essential for all humanity, regardless of political views.

Thanks to your faithful advocacy, four bills that FCNL staff and grassroots advocates relentlessly advocated for were signed into law during the last Congress:

  • The Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 establishes the prevention of genocide and other atrocities as core national security interest and moral responsibility of the United States.
  • The farm bill, or the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, reauthorizes funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It helps more than 40 million Americans put food on the table.
  • The FIRST STEP Act of 2018 reforms the federal prison system and seeks to reduce recidivism. The full name of the law is The Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person.
  • The PREPARE Act of 2017 created an interagency council to establish government-wide goals to deal with extreme weather. It stands for Preparedness and Risk Management for Extreme Weather Patterns Assuring Resilience and Effectiveness.

These laws were not passed just within one session of Congress. The reality is our work goes beyond a session of Congress—it includes persistent advocacy that stretches across decades. We keep one eye on what’s right in front of us and one eye on the horizon. We work for change that takes years of sustained, persistent effort to achieve.

The reality is our work goes beyond a session of Congress—it includes persistent advocacy that stretches across decades.

While we worked hard to pass these laws, just as important were our efforts to stop bad laws from being enacted. In 2017, we managed to help narrowly defeat legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Had it passed, 22 million people would have been deprived of health care. FCNL was a central part of the debate, with advocates making more than 295 lobby visits and thousands calling and writing their members of Congress.

We worked to affirm the powers of Congress to declare war—to prevent and curtail endless wars. During the last Congress, the senate passed a historic resolution to end U.S. military participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Senators used the Vietnam War-era War Powers Resolution to end wars never authorized by Congress.

We worked on several other bills which only passed one chamber of Congress. We were informed that some of these will be re-introduced in the 116th Congress.

One bill, Savanna’s Act, was designed to ensure better coordination among tribal police and other jurisdictions. Native American women murder rates are 10 times the national average. The bill is named in honor of Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind (Spirit Lake) a pregnant woman murdered by her neighbor in North Dakota.

Clearly, our experience in the 115th Congress affirms the enduring power of the Friends Committee on National Legislation to influence public policy in the U.S. and around the world. We start our work with the 116th Congress full of hope and confident of the Light that guides us.

As with the 115th Congress, we recognize that using our power in the new Congress is not about the politics of partisanship or political parties. It is not about the power of money, of domination, or of empire. It is about the power of the Spirit, manifested in human beings leading us along the path to the world we seek.

Diane Randall

  • Executive Secretary

Diane Randall is the Executive 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. A lifelong advocate for peace and social justice, Diane is a fierce proponent for citizen engagement that advances policies and practices to create a better society for all.