majority of Senate Republicans blocked ratification of an international treaty yesterday to protect the rights of the disabled. They argued without foundation that passage would result in U.N. interference with U.S. law; failed to affirm American leadership following the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act 22 years ago; and defied the wishes of President George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, both Republican war veterans. Dole, disabled during World War II and recently released from the hospital, showed up in a wheelchair (above) to support the bill. Regardless, the vote was 61-38, which did not reach the two thirds needed for passing an international treaty; instead of Dole, the views of Rick Santorum carried the day:
[Santorum] and other conservatives argued that the treaty could relinquish U.S. sovereignty to a U.N. committee charged with overseeing a ban on discrimination and determining how the disabled, including children, should be treated. They particularly worried that the committee could violate the rights of parents who choose to home school their disabled children.
...Supporters dismissed those fears as paranoid, noting that the treaty would change nothing in U.S. law without further approval from Congress.
“With these provisions, the United States can join the convention as an expression — an expression — of our leadership on disability rights without ceding any of our ability to decide for ourselves how best to address those issue in our law,” said Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.).