WASHINGTON – Led by Republican opposition, the Senate on Tuesday rejected a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled that is modeled after the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act.
With 38 Republicans casting “no” votes, the 61-38 vote fell five short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify a treaty. The vote took place in an unusually solemn atmosphere; former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, looking frail and in a wheelchair, was in the chamber to support the treaty.
Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe were among the eight Republicans who joined Democrats to support the U.N. treaty. Snowe said she had been proud to vote for the Americans with Disabilities Act while a member of the House in 1990.
The treaty is already signed by 155 nations and ratified by 126 countries, including Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia. Republicans objected to taking up a treaty during the lame-duck session of the Congress and warned that the treaty could pose a threat to U.S. national sovereignty.
“I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
He and other opponents were not swayed by support for the treaty from some of the GOP’s prominent veterans, including the 89-year-old Dole, who was disabled during World War II, and Sen. John McCain, who also suffered disabling injuries in Vietnam.