After 262 hours protesting on the streets of Oklahoma City, activists focused on ending the senseless violence perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army claimed a victory yesterday when Senator Coburn (R-OK) signaled he would remove his hold on a popular, bipartisan bill.
The Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 (S. 1067) calls on the Obama administration to devise a strategy for addressing the 24-year insurgency led by Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The legislation also request that a modest amount of funding be allocated to rehabilitating child soldiers from the LRA ranks and rebuilding communities in northern Uganda. Senator Coburn, who has made it his policy to oppose legislation that raises the national deficit, objected to this final piece, which amounted to $40 million (the equivalent of 25 cents per U.S. taxpayer).
Senator Coburn spoke to activists and Resolve Uganda yesterday afternoon to formalize a compromise proposed by two of the bill’s leading co-sponsors, Senator Feingold (D-WI) and Senator Inhofe (R-OK).
In Capitol Hill-speak, the bill’s authorization of appropriations was replaced with Sense of Congress language, which basically conveys the message to the Senate Appropriations committee that the Senate strongly recommends allocating the requested funding. While this written request doesn’t bind the Appropriations Committee to provide the funds, backing from the bill’s 64 co-sponsors (more than any other piece of legislation on sub-Saharan Africa since 1973) makes the priority clear.
The bill will now be sent to the Senate floor for final passage, so barring any unforeseen objections from other senators, expect another victory for the anti-LRA movement in the next day or two.
The Hold Out campaign in Oklahoma City, led by Resolve Uganda and Invisible Children, lasted 11 days, generating lots of local news coverage and thousands of phone calls to the senator’s office. Check out the local news coverage of the victory: