By Julian Pecquet - 12/03/12 06:16 PM EST
Senate Democrats on Monday launched a last-minute effort to salvage a United Nations treaty on the rights of people with disabilities ahead of Tuesday's vote.
Flanked by military veterans as well as blind and wheelchair-bound advocates, several Democratic leaders and Sen. John McCainJohn McCainWhich GOP pols will actually attend the convention? Trump bucks military on waterboarding Overnight Defense: Pentagon lifts transgender ban | Navy says Iran broke law by detaining sailors MORE (R-Ariz.) called Tea Party-fueled objections to the treaty “mythologies.”
Supporters of the treaty might be a few votes short of winning the 67 votes needed for passage.
Sixty-one senators last week voted to proceed to the treaty, meaning supporters need to convince a handful of Republicans to vote for the agreement in order to reach the needed two-thirds majority threshold.
“There's still a process going on” to try to win over Republicans, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John KerryJohn KerryCutting corners in a federal campaign is criminal Navy investigation concludes Iran broke international law by detaining sailors Top Democrat wants Obama to block Boeing's deal with Iran MORE (D-Mass.) said. “And this is part of it.”
“This is about Americans and raising the standards of how we treat Americans around the world,” Kerry said.
The treaty was negotiated under former President George W. Bush and signed by President Obama in July 2009.
Proponents say the treaty merely extends the rights embodied under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act to other countries. McCain called passage of the treaty an “expansion of the American example and the American ideal around the world.”
Opposition to the treaty is being led by former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeThe Trail 2016: Meet and greet and grief Trump to meet with Senate GOP next week First trans Senate candidate: My gender won’t be an issue MORE (R-Utah), along with the conservative Heritage Foundation. The think-tank says the treaty would impinge on U.S. sovereignty.
Heritage also sent out an action alert Monday to remind Republican senators that 36 of them signed onto a pledge in September vowing to oppose any treaty brought up during the lame-duck session of Congress, calling it an “inappropriate” time to pass treaties.
Kerry countered that argument by saying the Senate has passed treaties 19 times during lame-duck sessions. He said the sitting senators, who “did all the work” sitting in on the committee's markup of the treaty this summer, should be the ones to vote on it.