1. Update
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

Relentless Advocacy

By Diane Randall, December 17, 2019


This year, Congress finally took important, bipartisan votes to end endless war. Despite growing recognition of the need to assert congressional authority over war, lawmakers ultimately failed to do so.

In September 2001, when FCNL declared that “war is not the answer,” only one member of Congress – Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13) – dared to oppose the administration’s request for a blank check for war. In 2002, Congress approved a second authorization for military intervention in Iraq. These authorizations have been the rationale for unending conflict since 9/11, and FCNL has persistently lobbied for their repeal.

When Congress takes up the issue of ending endless wars again in 2020 – and we will make sure it does – we are starting from a stronger place than ever before.

Thanks to a focused effort by FCNL advocates and allies, the House endorsed a bill that included repeal of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) in June, and a bipartisan majority of representatives went on record in support of repealing the 2002 Iraq war authorization. These were important successes. We have come a long way in securing congressional support– and yet we are profoundly disappointed that Congress hasn’t gone further.

Up until last week, all indications were that Congress would repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF as part of the annual defense policy bill. With this repeal, Congress would have taken a major step to reassert its authority over whether and when the U.S. goes to war. But partisan politics and Pentagon opposition held sway. One congressional staffer told us that the military wanted the authority in place in case it was needed for future military action.

Not only does this bill fail to repeal the 2002 Iraq AUMF, it also entrusts this administration with a massive $738 billion for the Pentagon this fiscal year. It is stunning that in a week when the Afghanistan Papers revealed the comprehensive failures of the 18-year conflict, Congress negotiated away this effort to curtail the use of force, end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and prevent war with Iran—other provisions we lobbied for.

Despite this result, I know we are having an impact. The work you have done with us – this year, and every year – has made a difference.

Our Quaker peace testimony is the moral foundation of FCNL’s advocacy for a world free of war and the threat of war.

In 2019 alone, FCNL Advocacy Teams held more than 358 meetings with members of Congress. During the final negotiations of this defense bill, our advocates went on more than 200 lobby visits. Thank you for this faithful persistence.

When Congress takes up the issue of ending endless wars again in 2020 – and we will make sure it does – we are starting from a stronger place than ever before. We will not end our efforts to promote peace, end war, and rein in the unchecked authority of the president to deploy U.S. military resources around the world.

Our Quaker peace testimony is the moral foundation of FCNL’s advocacy for a world free of war and the threat of war. We join with millions of people who know that peace is possible, and that we must persuade Congress to act to end past wars and prevent future violent conflicts.

We will continue to be relentless in our advocacy for peace and justice. Thank you for being in it with us.

Download statement here.

Diane Randall

  • General Secretary

Diane Randall is the General 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.