Archive of CRPD in the 112th Congress


USICD Applauds Bipartisan Group of Senators for Supporting Ratification

See Senators' Press Release and USICD's below.

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. International Council on Disabilities applauds the unified statement of bipartisan support for United States ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities that has been issued by seven senators.  Last week, the Obama Administration submitted the CRPD to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent for ratification.  In their statement, Senators McCain (R-AZ), Durbin (D-IL), Moran (R-KS), Harkin (D-IA), Barrasso (R-WY), Coons (D-DE), and Udall (D-NM) affirm that the treaty upholds the American values of non-discrimination and equal access for persons with disabilities in all areas of life.  The seven senators joined together in promoting the ratification of the Convention which will help protect Americans with disabilities who work and travel abroad from discrimination, including disabled American veterans, and help ensure that all Americans enjoy the same rights outside the U.S. as they enjoy at home.

Read USICD's Full Press Release

SFRC Committee Hearing

Photo of disability and veterans community witnesses in the forground, with Senators in the background during the CRPD hearing

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Thursday, July 12, at 9:00 a.m. in Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room G-50.  We were thrilled to see a strong show of support from our community!

We apologize for the lack of captioning in the testimony clips. Watch complete hearing with captioning here.

John McCain in front of a flagTestimony of Senator John McCain
(R) - Arizona

watch complete testimony


A smiling, grey-haired gentleman in a business suit is seen in fron ot part of an American flag.

Testimony of Senator Tom Harkin
(D) - Iowa

watch complete testimony


A smiling gentleman in as suit and tie sits in front of a bookcaseStatement by Senator John Barasso
(R) - Wyoming

watch complete statement


Testimony of former USICD President
John Lancaster

Smiling bald gentleman in a suit from the cest up with part of an American flag in the backgroundWatch explanation of the history of the CRPD

Watch explanation of why the U.S. should ratify

Watch the stirring end of testimony

Watch complete testimony


Testimony of former Chief, Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U. S. Department of Justice
John Wodatch

A grey haired, smiling gentleman in a business suit pictured from the waite up with part of an American flag behind himWatch explanation of preservation of parental rights

Watch a brief history of the CRPD development

Watch Explanation of RUDs

Watch explanation of why the U.S. should ratify

Watch complete testimony

A smiling gentleman in a business suit is shown from the waist up with part of an American Flag in the backgroundTestimony of former U.S. Attorney General
Richard Thornburgh

Watch complete testimony

Senate Recess CRPD Update

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Makes CRPD Statement in Senate Record:

Emphasizes the importance of moving the CRPD forward to ratification!

As the Senate session closed on Thursday, August 2, Senator Reid made a point to state his support for the bipartisan effort to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Senators Durbin (D-IL), McCain (R-AZ), Kerry (D-MA), Moran (R-KS), Coons (D-DE), Barrasso (R-WY), Harkin (D-IA), and Udall (D-NM) have all joined together to lead the support of the CRPD.  In his statement, Senator Reid acknowledged this tremendous bipartisanship and the importance of ratifying the CRPD:

This Convention is a another step towards ensuring that all people with a disability, in any country, are treated with dignity and given the right to achieve to their full potential . . . Just like passing the Americans with Disabilities Act, ratifying this Convention is, quite simply, the right thing to do.” Senator Reid, Senate Majority Leader

USICD and DREDF want to THANK YOU for your incredible work in getting the CRPD transmitted to the Senate, through a hearing process in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and voted successfully to the Senate floor in the span of less than three months!

Many said this could not be done.  But the strength and determination of the disability community is alive and we look forward to continuing to work with you in August to see that the CRPD is ratified in September!


On Thursday, September 20th, Senator Durbin (IL) requested Unanimous Consent to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities! Senator Lee (UT) objected to the UC  request and stated a position opposed to considering any treaties before next year. Senator Harkin (IA) weighed in on how important our U.S. leadership is to the world and that he had hoped the treaty could move forward before Senate took their break before the elections.  Watch the video below for the full floor debate. 

What’s Next? The UC request was a strong signal that the Senate is taking the CRPD treaty seriously and that it will be brought up for a final vote in the lame duck session, expected to begin November 13th.  The American disability community has worked hard to get to this point with over 250 disability organizations playing an important role in supporting this global affirmation of disability rights.  In October and early November before the Senate returns for the FINAL VOTE, let’s raise our voices and KEEP THE DRIVE ALIVE!

Senator Durbin, a grey haired gentelman in a suit, reads off a sheet of paper from a poduium surrounded by other chairs.

Senators Durbin (D-IL). Harkin (D-IA), and Senator Lee (R- UT) discuss the Senate's passage of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


(See vote count here) 

U.S. International Council on Disabilities Applauds the U.S. Senate for Moving Forward with Its Consideration of the U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 

Senator Reid Brings the CRPD to the Senate Floor

Washington, D.C. — On Monday, Senator Reid expressed his intention to proceed with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in the Senate Executive Session on Tuesday.  USICD applauds the Senate’s leadership on this issue and asks that all U.S. Senators recognize that the CRPD will advance U.S. interests by improving accessibility for Americans around the world and enabling the U.S. to continue its leadership on disability issues. 

“Ratification of the CRPD is the next advance in the bipartisan march towards increasing the freedom of all Americans with disabilities,” said former congressman, the Honorable Tony Coelho, lead sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and current USICD board member.

USICD leads a community of over 300 disability organizations, 21 veteran organizations, and 30 faith organizations that support ratification of the CRPD.  The CRPD is also supported by a bipartisan group of senators who share the goal of increasing accessibility for Americans with disabilities – including veterans – who live, work and travel abroad.  Earlier this year, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmed their support for this goal when they delivered an overwhelming and bipartisan Committee vote for ratification of the CRPD on July 26th, the anniversary of much of the treaty’s foundation, the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray and former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, also a parent of a child with a disability, have confirmed that no changes in U.S. law will be required to comply with the treaty.  Further, they stated that ratification will allow the U.S. to “contribute formally its leadership and expertise on disability issues to rest of the world.”  

In addition to every major disability and veteran’s organization, the United States Chamber of Commerce and key leaders in America’s historic bipartisan disability rights movement supports the treaty, including Senator Bob Dole and President George H.W. Bush.  USICD urges the U.S. Senate to expeditiously consider and approve ratification of the treaty, so that the U.S. can continue to lead the world in increasing accessibility and equality for persons with disabilities.

American Disability Community Denounces Failure to Pass Treaty in U.S. Senate

In the last days of the 112th Congress, the United States Senate fell short of the votes needed to pass the resolution for ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  In doing so they have turned their backs on the American disability and veteran community.  The coalition for ratification is very concerned that extremists in the Republican Party blocked a treaty that would protect people with disabilities, help our brave veterans, and would have maintained America’s leadership on global disability rights. 

“Egregious partisanship, the first of its kind with disability rights legislation, is what kept us from ratifying this treaty.  And now egregious partisanship will cost us the respect of our closest global allies.  We are battered but not broken.  This fight is not over.  People around the world count on us and we will not stop our tireless advocacy for them,” said former congressman from California, the Honorable Tony Coelho, lead sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and current USICD board member.

The American disability and veteran community applauds the 61 courageous senators who stood up for the rights of their citizens.  The Democrats and Independents were unified in their support for the treaty.  We sincerely thank those Republicans who stood with us for their courage: Senators McCain, Barrasso, Brown, Collins, Ayotte, Snowe, Murkowski, and Lugar. As for the other 38 senators, who abandoned the very principles and values that this country was built upon by blocking the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – we will not let you forget this vote.  Countless Americans with disabilities came together across the United States to support the cause of U.S. ratification of the CRPD. 

“This campaign for ratification brought together a powerful coalition of over 300 disability and 21 veteran organizations, only to have 38 senators tell us that our rights, protections, and dignity are not important to them.  We will forge newer, bigger, more vigorous alliances.  We will redouble our efforts.  This vote against me and my community is one you will not soon forget,” said USICD President Marca Bristo.

Not all is lost, however.  The CRPD will continue to serve as the guide star for people with disabilities in countries around the world.  Today, as a result of a grassroots advocacy and education campaign, Americans with disabilities have an increased awareness of this important human rights document and its promise to the world’s one billion people with disabilities.  This connection between Americans with disabilities and their global counterparts cannot be severed.