New Push for Disability Treaty

November 20, 2013
Source: Roll Call

CQ Roll Call (Morning Briefing): New Push for Disability Treaty

By Adriel Bettelheim

November 20, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerrygoes before Senate Foreign Relations today in a renewed push to win Senate ratification of a United Nations disability treaty that the chamber failed to advance last year.

The pact (Treaty Doc 112-7) sets global standards for the treatment of people with disabilities and has the backing of a number of prominent Republicans, including former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, who lost the use of his right arm in World War II and made a plea for approval from his wheelchair on the Senate floor last year. However, critics contend it could give the U.N. authority to decide educational and treatment issues for disabled children and possibly lead to more abortions because it guarantees the disabled equal access to reproductive health services.

With 55 Democrats and five Republicans who voted in favor for the treaty last time, supporters need a handful of GOP senators to reach the two-thirds majority required for approval. Kirk, who was recovering from a stoke that left him partially disabled at the time of last year’s vote, is a sure yes. Supporters are optimistic more will follow because many senators objected in 2012 to voting on a treaty in a post-election “lame-duck” session. That won’t be an issue this year.

CQ reporter Emily Cadei will be at the hearing and is watching undecided Republicans such as Tennessee’s Corker and Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who switched his vote from “yes” to “no” last year when it appeared backers would not clear their threshold for passage.