Reid vows to take up disability treaty in next Congress

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would grant people with disabilities equal rights around the world.

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The Senate rejected the treaty Tuesday on a 61-38 vote — two-thirds of the Senate was needed to pass the measure.

“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,” Reid said. “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.”

Some Senate Republicans objected that the treaty would create new abortion rights and impede the ability of people to home-school disabled children. Supporters of the treaty said it was important for U.S. citizens and veterans with disabilities who travel, study, do business or reside abroad.

“Today’s vote wasn’t about Republicans or Democrats,” Reid said. “It was about standing up for our heroes — men and women who risked their lives on the battlefield for the United States of America. This treaty was about 57 million Americans who live with a disability. Republicans such as former President George H.W. Bush, Senator [John] McCain [(R-Ariz.)] and former Senator Bob Dole [(R-Kan.)] called on their Republican colleagues to support these Americans. I am saddened those Senators did not listen. Their arguments against the treaty had no basis in fact — the treaty does not change United States law.”

In the next Congress, Reid will have two more Democratic votes, which still wouldn’t bring him to the necessary 67 votes to ratify the treaty, but some Republicans did side with Democrats.

Republican Sens. Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), John Barrasso (Wyo.), Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dick Lugar (Ind.), McCain), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with Democrats in favor of the treaty Tuesday.