Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch joined 36 Republican colleagues in blocking a United Nations treaty addressing the rights of the disabled.
The treaty — known as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities — received a 61-38 vote, falling short of the two-thirds majority required to pass a treaty.
Details about the vote — and the treaty — from Jim Abrams of the Associated Press:
The vote took place in an unusually solemn atmosphere, with senators sitting at their desks rather than milling around the podium. Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, looking frail and in a wheelchair, was in the chamber to support the treaty.
The treaty, already signed by 155 nations and ratified by 126 countries, including Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, states that nations should strive to assure that the disabled enjoy the same rights and fundamental freedoms as their fellow citizens. 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.
Here's a statement from Crapo:
"Although current U.S. disability law is sufficient for implementation of and compliance with the treaty, it is unclear how the treaty would limit or impact the ability to change or modify existing U.S. disability law. There has been considerable concern that the CRPD promotes the idea that governments, not parents, have the ultimate voice in the decisions concerning their children. U.S. membership in the CRPD would not advance the cause of persons with disabilities living in the U.S. since the U.S. already has comprehensive statutory, regulatory, and enforcement mechanisms regarding disability rights."
And here's a statement from Risch:
"The U.S. has the most comprehensive and protective laws in the world benefiting disabled people. Other countries would do well to emulate us. I am absolutely opposed to turning over standards in this field, or for that matter any field, to other countries and non-Americans and agreeing to those standards without learning what they are in advance. In addition, I do not believe that this is a proper role of the United Nations. I have been outspoken and critical of the ballooning reach of the United Nations into every aspect of our lives. At the end of the day, this is a matter of national sovereignty for the United States and every other country in the world. We have sufficient problems right here in America to deal with without attempting to meddle in every aspect of the laws of other countries."