The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that the failure of the UN disabilities treaty in the upper chamber today is “a wake-up call about a broken institution that’s letting down the American people.”
President Obama signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) brought it to the floor for a vote today despite concerns about sovereignty, parental rights, abortion, and more in the document.
It failed by a vote of 61 to 38, five votes short of the threshold needed for ratification.
In September, 36 senators sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asking that no treaties be brought to the floor during the lame-duck session.
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) called it “one of the saddest days I’ve seen in almost 28 years in the Senate.”
“This treaty was supported by every veterans group in America and Bob Dole made an inspiring and courageous personal journey back to the Senate to fight for it. It had bipartisan support, and it had the facts on its side, and yet for one ugly vote, none of that seemed to matter,” Kerry said. “We won’t give up on this and the Disabilities Treaty will pass because it’s the right thing to do, but today I understand better than ever before why Americans have such disdain for Congress and just how much must happen to fix the Senate so we can act on the real interests of our country.”
Bob Dole, a backer of the treaty, attended today’s vote with his wife, Elizabeth Dole.
“While I believe we must be sensitive to the rights of the disabled, we have many American laws that protect Americans with disabilities,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) after his “nay” vote. “This treaty would threaten U.S. autonomy and give the U.N. undue influence over American policy.”
“The Convention on Rights for People with Disabilities Treaty wrongly attempts to impose standards on other nations through the United Nations and might well have unintended consequences here at home,” said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who also voted against the treaty.
“Ratifying this treaty would have helped open new markets for American businesses that provide goods and services to persons with disabilities,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “Yet Senate Republicans chose to put partisanship and politics first.”