Friends Committee on National Legislation:
“Love Thy Congress”
by Riley Robinson
FCNL Major Gifts Officer
Congress is the one branch of the federal government that you can talk with through lobbying. FCNL lobbies congress effectively in a wide range of issues. At FCNL’s “Love Thy Congress” interest group at NYYM’s Summer Sessions, lobbying experience varied between group attenders. Friends had experience with FCNL Advocacy Teams, writing emails from home, making phone calls, office visits (including with actual members of congress), even a shuttle ride beneath the D.C. Capitol building.
Attenders learned lessons from their lobbying experiences that match what FCNL has learned: Build relationships. Never assume that someone often differing with you shares none of your concerns. Listen, learn, and persist! Assume that the congressperson who agrees with you needs your support — especially if they take a risk. Making personal contacts gets results. Quaker lobbyists do hold congressional members and staffers in the Light. You CAN try this at home!
FCNL’s lobbying is guided by you. This spring more than 200 meetings and churches sent input for FCNL’s legislative priorities for the coming congress. Participants in the NYYM interest group expressed concerns including partisan acrimony, impeachment frustration, legislative paralysis, needed criminal justice reform, and support for fair voting.
FCNL has a team of experienced lobbyists, but volunteers are crucial. You can join an Advocacy Team (the NYYM area has nine) that takes on one issue per year. Young adults can participate in one of four programs: Spring Lobby Weekend in March, Summer Interns, Young Fellows, and Advocacy Corps. (Three young adults from the NYYM area are in FCNL programs now.) In DC, the Quaker Welcome Center fosters bipartisan dialogue, and new programs are being planned for William Penn House.
Right now, FCNL is working on:
- Prisons – COVID
- Police – Set national use of force standards, stop the flow of military equipment, promote transparency and accountability
- Voting – Registration, candidate questions, funding secure elections
- COVID crisis – Funds for people in need, like the SNAP nutrition program
- Militarization – Defund nuclear programs, prevent genocide and atrocities, support multiparty diplomacy
- Climate change work – Support bipartisan climate caucuses and carbon user fees
- Native Americans – Native women’s health and safety, tribal justice, COVID
- Gun Safety – Ghost guns
Visit FCNL.org for links to videos, email newsletters, online events, and information on attending the upcoming annual meeting in November.