Thursday, October 31, 2013
Last year, the U.S. Senate narrowly voted against giving its advice and consent to U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has decided to revive the debate and will hold new hearings on the treaty next Tuesday, November 5.
In an effort to convince wavering Republicans who voted against the treaty the first time around, the first two witnesses scheduled to testify next week are Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Last year, the treaty fell five votes short of the two-thirds needed for ratification. Advocates hope this time around they can convince enough Republicans to vote yes now that the divisive presidential election is over.
The treaty enjoys broad bipartisan support. Joining will allow the United States to continue its leadership internationally for the protection of disabled persons. Opposition to the treaty comes primarily from conservatives who fear an erosion of American sovereignty with any international commitments and who believe joining the treaty is unncessary because U.S. law already adequate protects disabled persons.
Currently, 138 other nations belong to the Disabilities Treaty.