Vote On UN Disability Treaty Blocked
An effort in the U.S. Senate to bring a vote on an international disability rights treaty has been squashed.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, took to the Senate floor Wednesday calling for a unanimous consent vote on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The senator requested two hours of debate on the treaty with no amendments followed by an up-or-down vote much like the Senate did two years ago.
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Within minutes, however, the plan was shot down with an objection from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who said that two hours of debate was insufficient and indicated that amendments should be allowed.
“There are a number of our colleagues, both on and off the committee, who have concerns with this treaty,” Lee said.
The U.N. Convention, which establishes an international standard for disability rights similar to what’s already in place domestically through the Americans with Disabilities Act, was signed by the United States in 2009, but Senate approval is needed for ratification and official participation.
The treaty is broadly supported by disability advocates and many civil rights, faith, business and veterans organizations. However, critics spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association contend that the treaty would compromise U.S. sovereignty.
A previous effort in 2012 to ratify the U.N. Convention failed in the Senate on a largely party-lines vote.
Harkin said it was “another sad, irresponsible day in the U.S. Senate” after Lee’s objection derailed his hope for a new vote.
Earlier this week, the United Nations announced that 150 countries have ratified the disability treaty.