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Fate Of Disability Treaty Unclear In Senate


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As the U.S. Senate begins consideration of an international disability rights treaty, it remains uncertain whether or not the United States will join.

Earlier this week, senators voted to debate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The treaty calls for greater community access and a better standard of living for people with disabilities worldwide.

However, after hours of speeches on the Senate floor Tuesday, public talk of the treaty grew quiet and lawmakers have yet to hold a vote on ratification.

The Obama administration, which urged the Senate to ratify the convention, says it requires no change to U.S. law. Supporters say that joining the international agreement would allow the U.S. to take a leadership position on the world stage when it comes to disability rights and would also help ensure that Americans with disabilities enjoy the same protections afforded them domestically when they travel abroad.

“The U.S. is the gold standard in terms of the rights of persons with disabilities. The impact of this treaty is to take that gold standard and extend it to countries where they’ve never heard of disability rights,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who has led efforts to ratify.

But opposition to the treaty has been fierce, with conservatives and home schooling groups arguing that ratification would pose a threat to U.S. sovereignty and would jeopardize the ability of parents to determine what’s best for their kids, claims that supporters say are simply untrue.

Former GOP senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum, whose daughter has special needs, has come out against the effort, joining Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, at a press conference this week to denounce the treaty.

Officials in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office say they are continuing to work on amendments to the convention, but did not offer a clear timetable for moving forward.

Disability advocates backing ratification of the treaty are hopeful that a vote will take place next week, said David Morrissey of the United States International Council on Disabilities.

The U.S. signed the convention in 2009, but Senate approval is required in order to make participation official. To ratify the treaty, a two-thirds majority or 67 senators would need to vote in favor of it.

Already, 126 countries around the word have ratified the disability treaty, according to the U.N.

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Comments (11 Responses)

  1. Whitney says:

    There is really simple solution to this problem. Make Congress live as people with disabilities do. Pay them the same amount as if they get with Social Security. Then they will change their tune. After they been treated like second class citizens.

  2. Mary says:

    I am not sure who these disability advocates are but as a mother of two children with disabilities I am absolutely in total disagreement with this treaty. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) sounds innocuous, but it would authorize bureaucrats rather than parents to decide what is best for all children with disabilities. There is an additional provision in this treaty that would require disabled persons to receive “reproductive health” services. This could grant the UN the ability to force America to provide abortions or sterilization to the disabled at taxpayer expense.
    We have fought long and hard for the rights our children have – big government is the enemy NOT an ally – we will soon find this out as the monstrosity of a health care bill is implemented with its IPAB which will deny treatment for our children. Disability Scoop goes along blindly with every single liberal, lame-brained, big government idea as the greatest thing since sliced bread – don’t you even read these things before you endorse them???
    So for all you parents who believe in the sanctity of life and the wonder that is our children, please remember that this dangerous treaty can be stopped if just 34 senators can be found to oppose it. Your senators are getting enormous pressure from the big government, pro-choice crowd to vote for this bill, so it is critical that they hear from you today.

  3. Adriana says:

    Borrowing reason from a disabled friend, the UN does not have enforcement power and cannot “make” a country change its laws. If the UN were so powerful, we would not see genocide, for example. The UN would jump in and tell the government allowing genocide to stop. Why do people think the UN can do all this. a treaty is not a law, it is more like an agreement, in this case, one that says: let’s give disabled people some dignity, give them the same rights the non-disabled enjoy.

    Besides, the UN does not have black helicopters

  4. Kim Bowlin says:

    This treaty will not improve the lives of persons with disabilities. First, the American laws already in place are already superior to other nations. Second, other nations do not have to make UN treaties the law of the land, as the United States does due to Article VI of our Constitution. Lastly, “disabilities” is never defined in this treaty, leaving it open to interpretation and evolving definition by UN enforcers. We MUST urge our Senators to oppose ratification of this treaty immediately!

  5. Ron Kuebler says:

    This should be a no-brainer. The United States is a world leader in disability rights. Maybe we should have been the author of this treaty, but that is no reason for dragging our feet on ratifying the treaty. Let’s go Senators; ratify the treaty and then think about how we can improve our service to people with disabilities. They need jobs, independent living opportunities and many other things.

  6. DU says:

    It sounds to me as if there are kernels of goodness in this treaty, as well as some clauses of genuine and legitimate concern. Can changes be made to this treaty before ratification, rather than passing it “as is”?

  7. KA101 says:

    We went over this in July.

    And since then, they’ve put forth the usual reservation language about how nothing in the treaty will be interpreted to actually affect US laws or require any changes to their interpretation. So there’s no risk that individuals’ rights under the IDEA will be expanded. (aut$peaks may still look worse. I’m OK with that.)

    About the only reason I can find to oppose this is an irrational fear of the UN. And for those who fear the UN, I’d remind you that the US isn’t a party to the International Criminal Court, so there’s no chance they’ll take anyone in the US into custody.

    (Compare: Mr. Noriega & Mr. Hussein, whose sovereign States the US invaded–and considerably damaged in the process–for the stated purpose of capturing, trying, and the second one, killing. In order for someone to go before a UN tribunal, the State where they’re located pretty much has to hand the person over, IIRC.)

  8. Amanda says:

    None of the fears Mary states can be found in the UN Treaty. She states, “I am not sure who these disability advocates are…” Umm how about United Cerebral Palsy, the national organization for people with CP, or The Arc, the national organization for people with DD and ID. These are not political organizations, clearly the illegitimate places where Mary gets her information are. Disability Scoop is not “going along blindly with every single liberal, lame-brained, big government idea as the greatest thing since sliced bread” by simply reporting that the Senate vote is unsure and that there is, in fact, no legitimate concern for the homeschooling community. They are just reporting facts important to the disability community. Words matter, and your ridiculous attempts at interjecting imaginary language into the actual text and into this actual article is baffling.

  9. Mary says:

    Sorry Amanda – but I will never be on the side of giving the soveriengty of the United States over to such a corrupt organization as the UN – those organizations you name were simply wrong and thank God the Senate did the right thing today.

  10. Bill Horn says:

    Still can’t believe the NO vote on approval of UN Treaty by US Senate. How can I get a list of how Senators voted on this? Not usually one to respond personally but this one is beyond me. I need to respond to the Senate members regarding their specific voting on this issue.

    Can’t let this pass without responding. Help please.

  11. KA101 says:

    Re Bill Horn: Search the Congressional Record for the Senate, 04 Dec 2012; going by Kerry’s speaking worked OK but you’re interested in page S7379, Roll Call vote #219 Ex.. Thomas (dot loc dot gov) is a good place to conduct such a search.

    I could C&P it but I suspect DisScoop wouldn’t much approve–it’s a very long list. Same reason I can’t just post a link for you. Sorry.

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