Bipartisan Support for Flawed UN Disability Treaty
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced his intention to bring the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Treaty Doc. 112-7) to the Senate floor. The treaty, signed by the Obama Administration in July 2009, purports to protect the rights of the disabled. However, as with most international treaties, ratification of the treaty would not advance America’s national interests.
Nonetheless, CQ (sub. req’d) notes the treaty has “bipartisan support in the Senate, including Republican advocates John McCain of Arizona and John Barrasso of Wyoming.”
For whatever merits the treaty’s proponents may see, the Heritage Foundation’s Steve Groves explains “the Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would inevitably interfere with U.S. policymaking, thereby infringing on American sovereignty and intruding into matters wholly unrelated to disability rights.” He continues that instead of ratifying this treaty, the “U.S. should continue to lead by the example it has set for protecting the rights of Americans with disabilities through comprehensive legislation and enforcement.”
There is another dynamic, aside from the policy, at play. CQ explains:
One Republican critic, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, said Monday that opponents have the votes to block it, citing a letter signed by 36 GOP senators opposing ratification of any treaties during the lame-duck session.
“It takes 67 votes, two-thirds, to ratify a treaty, so 34 votes for the ‘no’ position are sufficient to block ratification of a treaty,” he noted. “We clear that threshold with two to spare.”
The key question for Reid is whether he can convince enough Senators who signed the letter to flip. In September, Heritage Action’s CEO Michael A. Needham applauded the 36 Senators, saying, the letter “ensures American sovereignty will not be eroded by last-minute negotiations involving lame-duck Senators.” Treaties, which become the “supreme law of the land” once ratified, should not be considered by outgoing Senators. Remember the New START Treaty?
Heritage Action is steadfastly opposed to this flawed UN treaty and will key vote against its ratification.