The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) came up for a vote today, December 4th, on the Senate floor. The final vote was 61 to 38. Although the treaty did not receive the 66 votes needed in order for it to be ratified, be assured, that the fight to ratify the CRPD is not over.
The CRPD would have improved access for disabled veterans and other Americans with disabilities that live, work, or travel abroad. The treaty is critical to maintaining America’s leadership role on disability rights and to eliminating disability discrimination throughout the world. Ratification of the CRPD treaty would present the opportunity for a reaffirmation of the values inherent in the Americans with Disabilities Act and provide the forum to advance them worldwide.
The vote followed on the heels of a day of intense and spirited advocacy marking the International Day of People with Disabilities on December 3. Disability advocates around the country held events and called, emailed, tweeted, and even visited their Senators’ offices both in their states and in DC. Advocates made passionate arguments in favor of extending rights that those of us in the U.S. have fought for to the global community. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), held a well-attended press conference advocating for passage of the treaty and responding to opposition. Other champions included Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI), the only quadriplegic member of Congress, Ted Kennedy, Jr. and Republican Dick Thornburgh, the former U.S. attorney general and governor of Pennsylvania. United Spinal and partner disability rights organizations were well represented on the hill.
Unfortunately, fear and arguments around the nation’s sovereignty and the American way of life won out, this time. The struggle is not over, though. All Democrats voted in favor of the treaty, eight Republicans also voted in favor, these included: Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, Senator Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, Senator Susan Collins and Senator Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Senator John McCain of Arizona.
Those of us making visits to Senators’ DC offices made it clear that this vote was a disability vote. Those Senators who voted against the community will be held to account. We will continue to call for ratification of this treaty and for all laws that ensure the basic rights and dignity of people with disabilities.
To all of our advocates, “Thank You.” Thank you for your hard work and self-advocacy. Every voice counts. As we continue the struggle, we all continue to build our community. Please consider contacting your Senators regarding their votes. Thank them for voting Yes or ask them to reconsider their No vote for the future. We will keep you updated on next steps.
United Spinal Association