Republicans Block Disability Rights -- Which Would Not Cost a Nickel

12/06/2012 12:36 pm ET Updated Feb 05, 2013
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. listens at left as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speak during a news conference on on Capitol Hill in W
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. listens at left as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speak during a news conference on on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, to urge Senate approval of an international agreement for protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In what appears another "say no to anything from the White House" move, Senate Republicans blocked a United Nations treaty which could have helped disabled children, women and men around the world -- at no cost whatsoever to the American taxpayer.

According to The Hill:

"The treaty, backed by President Obama and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), fell five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for confirmation as dozens of Senate Republicans objected that it would create new abortion rights and impede the ability of people to homeschool disabled children."

The abortion argument is total nonsense. First, the treaty merely asked that other countries bring their disability rights policies up to America's level; and second, the treaty would have been non-binding on the U.S.

To pass, the bill needed 67 Yes votes from 100 Senators: It got 61. Thirty-nine Republican Senators refused to lift a finger for the disability community.

Eight Republicans did stand up for disability rights -- applause to Senators Ayotte, Barasso, Brown, Collins, Lugar, McCain, Snow, and Murkowski -- but every other Republican voted the party line.

Former President George H.W. Bush supported the treaty, and made phone calls to Republican Senators, as did Senator John McCain, and former Senator Bob Dole, author of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

But it was to no avail.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said:

"It is a sad day when we cannot pass a treaty that simply brings the world up to the American standard for protecting people with disabilities because the Republican party is in thrall to extremists and ideologues... The United States is seen as a leader around the world. Today, we had a chance to lead, and we failed because a small group of Republican senators fear the Tea Party more than they care about equality for people with disabilities."

A statement from the White House said:

"We are disappointed that the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans today blocked the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which would enshrine American standards that have been developed through decades of bipartisan cooperation. Ratification would require no changes to U.S. law, as the United States already leads the world in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. However, it would position the United States to support extending across the globe the rights that Americans already enjoy at home. This in turn would improve the lives of Americans with disabilities -- including our wounded service members -- who wish to live, work, and travel abroad. It would also allow our businesses to operate on a more level playing field and reaffirm American leadership on disability rights. For these reasons, and others, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and across the country -- as well as disability advocacy groups, wounded warriors, veterans groups and business groups -- have supported this treaty. We commend former Senator Dole and the bipartisan coalition of Senators who worked to secure the treaty resolution's passage, including Senators Reid, Kerry, Lugar and McCain. We hope the Senate will reconsider this treaty soon in the next Congress. As President Obama declared in a written statement read in tribute to Senator Dole just before the vote, "disability rights should not stop at our nation's shores."

Over 40 million Americans are living with a disability -- and their families -- should take note of which party supports them, and which does not.