When not threatening their constituents with the doom and gloom of the impending fiscal cliff, Senate Republicans quietly and petulantly blocked a United Nations treaty that would help provide the world’s disabled citizens with the protections the United States initiated.
The treaty, called the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, is based on our country’s very own 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, has been ratified by 120 countries worldwide, and was signed by the US in 2009.
However, a wide range of right-wing attacks has prevented the initiative from getting the necessary 67 votes needed to ratify a treaty. Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) brought his disabled daughter, Bella to the floor of the Senate to make the claim that the treaty would tell him how to parent. Many on the right, such as Utah’s Mike Lee, were afraid the treaty would interfere with American sovereignty.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Since the treaty is based on existing U.S. law, its ratification would require absolutely no changes within our borders. However, as Senator John Kerry (D-MA) pointed out,
“(I)ts main purpose is to encourage other countries to implement the same rights for the disabled already ensured in the United States. He says the treaty requires no changes in U.S. law and that the U.N. committee created by the treaty only has the power to recommend, and cannot force individual nations to change their laws.What the treaty does, Kerry said at the July committee vote, “is provide a critical tool as we work to ensure that American citizens, including our men and women in uniform and our disabled veterans, are free to travel, work and live abroad.”