lasted 262 hours.
After being contacted by dozens of constituents, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan released a statement yesterday calling for Senator Coburn to lift his hold and allow the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act to pass. Senator Levin is Chairman of the Armed Services Committee (aka, this is a big deal).
Here's what he had to say:
Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, I am a cosponsor of a bill introduced by Senators Feingold and Brownback, the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. I am one of the 62 cosponsors of this legislation, and I believe this broad bipartisan support speaks to both the urgency of this issue and the importance of this legislation.
On a continent plagued by man-made tragedy, the Lord's Resistance Army stands out as a manufacturer of that tragedy. The U.S. State Department describes the LRA as ``vicious and cult-like.'' Formed in the 1980s to overthrow the Ugandan government, the LRA engaged in such widespread violence that at one time, about 2 million Ugandans were displaced from their homes. The LRA massacred, mutilated and abducted civilians, and forced many into sexual servitude. An estimated 66,000 Ugandan youths were forced to fight for the group.
The good news is that the Ugandan government has now largely pushed the LRA out of Uganda. The bad news is that the scars it has left behind are raw and real for Ugandans; and that meanwhile, the LRA has moved into parts of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic, continuing to spread violence and terror. Between September of 2008 and July of 2009, the United Nations estimates that LRA violence claimed 1,300 civilian lives, that the LRA abducted another 1,400 civilians, and that more than 300,000 were forced from their homes.
This legislation, which 63 Senators support, would take a number of steps to address both the aftermath of the LRA's rampage in Northern Uganda and its continuing violence in Uganda's neighbor nations. The Act would require that within six months, the United States develop a comprehensive strategy for dealing with the LRA, including an outline of steps to protect the civilian population against LRA violence. The act would authorize funding under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to provide humanitarian assistance in areas affected by LRA. And it would provide assistance for reconstruction and for promotion of justice and reconciliation in areas of Uganda recovering from the LRA's depredations.
It is unfortunate that despite the broad and bipartisan support for this legislation, apparently only one Member of the Senate objects to it and is able to block its consideration. As with so many measures before the Senate, there is little doubt that this bill would win overwhelming passage were it allowed to come to the floor.
But the innocent victims of LRA violence, past and present, need our help. The objection of one Senator should not be allowed to thwart us responding to that need.