Dole, Frist and a Generation Gap

January 13, 2014
Source: CQ Weekly

By Shawn Zeller

January 13, 2014


Republican senators don't respect their elders - at least, not when it comes to the ratification of a long-pending treaty aimed at providing international rights to people with disabilities>.


A year ago, most GOP senators rebuffed former Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas after he came to the Senate floor to lobby for the deal. Last month, Sen. Bob Corker , the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee and a key player in determining whether the treaty will get another shot, rebuffed his predecessor in his Tennessee seat, former Majority Leader Bill Frist.


After Corker announced on Dec. 20 that he could not support the treaty, the U.S. International Council on <Disabilities>, a coalition that advocates for supports for people with <disabilities>, released a statement from Frist chastising Corker.


The treaty would bar discrimination against people with <disabilities> and require countries to make reasonable accommodations to make their lives easier. Frist says the United States already meets those standards, thanks to the 1990 Americans with <Disabilities> Act. "Voting no to this treaty is saying that we do not think the global community deserves an ADA of their own," he said.


But Corker says he fears the treaty would trample on states' prerogatives by establishing "certain rights for Americans, as well as what the U.S. government must do to assist persons with <disabilities>, reaching deep into many aspects of life including education, health care and family law."


Corker, who had been wooed by President Barack Obama , added that he didn't believe any clarifying language could fix the treaty and he had to oppose it.


Corker was among the 38 Republicans who voted against the treaty in 2012. Eight Republicans voted for it then, but it fell five short of the two-thirds majority required for ratification.


Corker's opposition likely sinks the treaty's prospects for this year, so the U.S. International Council on <Disabilities asked supporters to urge him to reconsider.