Dole had been urging members of his party to ratify the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which would grant people with disabilities equal rights in other countries.

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Those supporting the treaty say it’s important for U.S. citizens and veterans with disabilities, who travel, study, do business or reside abroad. Dole himself is a veteran with a disability.

Sen. John KerryJohn Forbes KerryJohn Kerry’s memoir title revealed GOP senator: Democratic opposition to Pompeo 'driven 100 percent by politics' North Korea is moved by Pompeo diplomacy, but Dems dig in deeper MORE (D-Mass.) pointed out that Dole, who appeared on the floor in a wheelchair, was present despite having been sick in Walter Reed Hospital just last week.

“Certainly he is not here because he doesn’t want to defend the sovereignty of America,” Kerry said of an argument made by those opposing the treaty. “He’s here because he wants other countries to respect the rights of those with disabilities.”

The treaty would ensure that countries ratifying it would work toward equality for persons with disabilities in accessibility, health, education and employment, among others.

Those opposing the treaty argue that it would then potentially change U.S. law on issues, such as aboriton and home schooling.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who has a disability, also appeared in the Senate chamber to watch the vote. Special Assistant to President Obama, Samantha PowerSamantha Jane Power ‘Trump TV pipeline’ is a joke, next to Obama’s media hires Former Obama officials launch advocacy group aimed at Trump's foreign policy Hillary Clinton to speak at Yale graduation MORE and other White House officials observed the vote from gallery, but declined to comment after the vote failed.

This article was updated at 12:40 p.m.