By Mike Lillis - 12/06/12 06:03 PM EST
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday linked outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) to one of the “saddest” Senate votes in years and suggested DeMint’s values won't be missed on Capitol Hill.
Pelosi criticized the resigning South Carolina lawmaker and other GOP senators for voting Tuesday against Senate ratification of a United Nations treaty on rights for the disabled.
Just hours before, DeMint shocked Capitol Hill by announcing that he's leaving the Senate to take over the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that had lobbied hard against the U.N. treaty on the disabled.
The treaty would have extended the rights granted under the Americans with Disabilities Act to all nations. It was voted down in a 61-38 vote.
The measure was backed most prominently by former-Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-Kansas), 89, a World War II veteran who came to the Senate chamber in a wheelchair Tuesday night to drum up support from his fellow Republicans.
He fell short.
Senate Republicans shot down the treaty, saying it was a threat to U.S. sovereignty. The final tally was 61-38, five votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass the measure.
The Heritage Foundation's lobbying arm urged senators to vote against the measure, arguing that it would grant “undue authority ... to an unaccountable committee of academics and 'disability experts' based in Geneva, Switzerland.”
“The committee’s authority would be a direct violation of the principles of U.S. sovereignty and federalism,” Heritage warned.
Pelosi on Thursday choked up while condemning the GOP opponents, including DeMint.
“For Sen. Dole to come, as the former leader of the Republicans in the Congress, to personally come to the Senate floor to lobby, to advocate, for that legislation — it just needed five more votes — and to see the Republicans in the Senate reject that out of hand for reasons that go beyond reason ... it was stunning,” Pelosi said.
“There's a competition for the worst, most shameful, all the rest of that,” she said, “but [that was] the saddest of all occasions.”