UNITED NATIONS (UPI) — The Senate voted Tuesday to reject a U.N. treaty protecting rights of disabled people, with opponents warning its terms “would be forced on” the United States.
Six Republicans voted with Democrats in favor of ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but the final vote — 61-38 in favor — was five votes short of the two-thirds necessary to join more than 150 other countries that have ratified the treaty.
President Barack Obama and former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., supported ratification of the treaty, which was negotiated and signed by former President George W. Bush.
Opponents, including Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, argued the treaty would establish new abortion rights and interfere with families’ choices in the education of their children, The Hill reported.
“This unelected bureaucratic body would pass recommendations that would be forced upon the United States if we were a signatory,” Inhofe said.
Supporters pointed out the treaty would not establish any new rights in U.S. courts and would be non-binding in any case.
Lee asked why the Senate should ratify the treaty if it “does nothing.”
“I have not said it does nothing,” Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said. “I said it does not change U.S. law, that is different from saying it doesn’t do anything. If it didn’t do anything I wouldn’t be here nor would President Bush have signed it.”
Kerry said the treaty would afford the United States the opportunity to advocate for rights of U.S. military veterans and citizens abroad, The Hill reported.
Republicans Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins of Maine, Dick Lugar of Indiana, John McCain of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted with Democrats in favor of ratification.