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Sen. Kerry: Rejection of UN treaty on disabled rights a 'slap in the face'

Kerry expressed dismay that his colleagues had failed to ratify the treaty despite the presence of former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), who watched the vote from the Senate floor.

"One of the things that I thought was most sad about yesterday was, here's a veteran of World War II, grievously wounded in that war … and he's on the floor, this man who defended American sovereignty and yet people were there suggesting somehow that he was there less than to defend America's sovereignty with this vote. To me that was just such an amazing slap in the face and a contradiction," said Kerry on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." 

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Dole, appearing in a wheelchair, hoped to rally additional support for the treaty.

The treaty, which was backed by President Obama and first signed by former President George W. Bush, fell five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for ratification. Dozens of Senate Republicans objected, claiming that it would create new abortion rights and impede the ability of people to homeschool disabled children.

Kerry told MSNBC that yesterday was a "very, very sad day for the Senate."

"Fear triumphed and politics triumphed, not the legitimate concerns of American with disabilities that want to travel abroad," he said. 

Kerry rejected GOP criticism, saying that fears that ratifying the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) would impede on U.S. laws, were unfounded.

"The bottom line is not one American law is affected by this treaty. No one gets any new rights. No one would have access to an American court. There is nothing to fear in this treaty, but there are people who use the treaty to drum up the fear of primaries and politics and opposition," Kerry said. 

Despite his frustrations, Kerry was optimistic that the Senate will eventually ratify the treaty.

"I think it's important not to go backwards. One of the lessons you learn in the United States Senate, is, you live to vote another day. This treaty is not dead forever. It just stopped yesterday. We're going to bring this treaty back," he said.

The Massachusetts senator said he was "perfectly prepared" to put additional language into the resolution to assuage any concerns expressed by Republicans. 

"I'm convinced we can get there," Kerry said.