It takes two third of the Senate to a ratify a treaty, and the Senate has just refused to ratify a treaty that provides basic rights for the disabled.
The 2006 treaty, which forbids discrimination of the disabled, has enjoyed bipartisan support. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the treaty would encourage other nations to develop the kind of protections the
adopted 22 years ago with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The
international treaty’s thrust, he said, was a message: “Be more like us.” United States
|J. Scott Applewhite/AP - Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), center, gestures during a news conference in Washington, Dec. 3, 2012, to urge Senate approval of an international agreement for protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities. The measure failed on Tuesday.|
The decency caucus of the Republican party, a group that gets smaller and smaller every day supported the measure.
But the treaty has split Republicans. Among its most vocal supporters were Republican war veterans, including President George H.W. Bush and former senator Bob Dole, who was injured in World War II and made a rare return to the Senate floor Tuesday to observe the vote and lend his stature.
Former President George H. W. Bush was a great supporter of the Americans With Disabilities Act, landmark legislation that passed while he was President, and legislation which Republicans would probably condemn to defeat today. But hard line Conservatives see a threat in any government action to protect anyone but themselves and their allies, the high net worth group.
Other conservatives were deeply suspicious of the United Nations, which would oversee treaty obligations. Those who opposed the treaty included former senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the father of a developmentally disabled child who had traveled to Capitol Hill last week to encourage fellow Republicans to vote no.
He and other conservatives argued that the treaty could relinquish
sovereignty to a U.N. committee charged with overseeing a ban on discrimination
and determining how the disabled, including children, should be treated. They
particularly worried that the committee could violate the rights of parents who
choose to home school their disabled children. U.S.
“This is a direct assault on us,” Santorum said.
No Mr. Santorum, you and your hostility to basic rights, your ignorance, your prejudices and your hatred towards everyone with whom you disagree is the direct assault on the American people here. Please go sir, just go.