Yesterday, thanks to the leadership of Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Carl Levin (D-MI), the Senate unanimously passed the 2013 defense authorizations bill, with a new amendment that specifically calls for strong, continued support for U.S. efforts to arrest Joseph Kony and protect communities in central Africa from LRA violence. The bill also includes an authorization of new funds for surveillance equipment that will help the advisors locate Kony so he can be brought to justice. (See the Resolve blog below for more details and to read the text from the bill.)

These three senators have consistently been leaders on the LRA issue in Washington, and many of their constituents had the chance to personally thank them for their commitment at our LOBBY:DC event in Washington a couple of weeks ago.

Just goes to show that a little thank you can go a long way. Wait – you couldn’t make it to LOBBY:DC to thank them in person? No problem. You can thank the the individual senators by emailing them: Chris Coons. Jim Inhofe. Carl Levin.

Resolve

Senate passes defense bill with new LRA provision

Senator Carl Levin with civil society representative from CAR, Alexis Mbolinani

Senator Carl Levin with civil society representative from CAR, Alexis Mbolinani

On Dec. 4th, the US Senate passed next year’s defense authorizations bill after adding a new provision urging sustained commitment for efforts to help end LRA atrocities. The amendment was introduced by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Chris Coons (D-DE), who chairs the Africa Subcommittee. It passed unanimously. The full text is below.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed his support when the amendment went for a vote. According to the official Congressional record, Levin commended Senators Inhofe and Coons and added, “The determination to go after Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army is essential not just in terms of the values that we so dearly believe in, but also in terms of avoiding further slaughter that has been perpetrated by Kony.”

The amendment was added just a week after more than 700 activists from across the country met with their representatives in Congress as part of MOVE:DC, the culminating event of the KONY 2012 campaign.

A second provision in the final bill specifically authorizes new funds for surveillance tools that help locate LRA groups. We wrote about it when it was added in June. Before becoming law, this legislation must first be reconciled with a version passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives that did not include either of the two LRA-related provisions.

- Michael

SEC. 1246. EFFORTS TO REMOVE JOSEPH KONY FROM POWER AND END ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE LORD’S RESISTANCE ARMY.

Consistent with the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (Public Law 111–172), it is the sense of the Senate that—

  1.  the ongoing United States advise and assist operation to support the regional governments in Africa in their ongoing efforts to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield and end atrocities perpetuated by his Lord’s Resistance Army should continue;
  2. using amounts authorized to be appropriated by section 301 and specified in the funding table in section 4301 for Operation and Maintenance, Defense-wide for ‘‘Additional ISR Support to Operation Observant Compass’’, the Secretary of Defense should provide increased intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to support the ongoing efforts of United States Special Operations Forces to advise and assist regional partners as they conduct operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa;
  3. United States and regional African forces should increase their operational coordination; and
  4. the regional governments should recommit themselves to the operations sanctioned by the African Union Peace and Security Council resolution.