Congress catches KONY fever

Congress catches KONY fever

33 senators unveiled a new resolution on Wednesday in support of the effort to capture the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army Joseph Kony, the subject of the "Kony 2012" viral video, which garnered over 80 million views before its creator was arrested following a mental breakdown and was subsequently hospitalized.

"Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army have burned a path of destruction through Uganda and its neighbors in central Africa for the last 25 years," Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said in a statement about the bill. "Joseph Kony represents the worst of mankind, and he and his commanders must be held accountable for their war crimes…The broad and bipartisan backing of this resolution demonstrates that we strongly support ongoing efforts to capture or kill Joseph Kony."

Coons, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, is leading the drive to pass the resolution with Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), the self-appointed "official Senate point man for Africa."

"Having made over 120 country visits to the continent of Africa, I have long worked to end the LRA’s activities," said Inhofe. "In order to combat terror and prevent further devastation caused by the hands of Joseph Kony, it is imperative that he is found and the LRA is finally disarmed. Only then, will we be able to bring stability to Africa."

The resolution expresses Congress’s support for the efforts of countries in the region to end the threat posed by the LRA, encourages the U.S. government to strengthen regional militaries’ capabilities to go after the LRA and to enhance military cooperation with those militaries, encourages the U.S. government to increase assistance to local populations affected by the LRA,  and calls on President Barack Obama to work with Congress to bring Kony and his top commanders to justice or kill them.

Last October, the president sent 100 military advisors to central Africa to join the hunt for Kony. That action was a follow-on to the passage and implementation of the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, which established the goal of going after Kony and the LRA as official U.S. policy.

The other original sponsors of the bill are Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Carl Levin (D-MI), John McCain (R-AZ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Dan Coats (R-ID), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), John Boozman (R-AR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Begich (D-AK), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Al Franken (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Bob Casey (D-PA).

UPDATE: Four more senators have signed on: Tom Coburn (R-OK), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Amy Klobuchar (DFL-MN).