Countdown Clocks

Countdown Clocks

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On Tuesday afternoon, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) read a letter from former Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) imploring Senate Republicans to ratify a United Nations treaty affirming equal rights for disabled individuals. Dole, who was hospitalized on Tuesday, was a World War II veteran who suffered lasting disabilities after his service.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced Monday that he plans to bring the treaty up for a vote in the Senate — but, despite widespread support for the measure, Republicans seem bent on killing it again this time around after blocking Democrats’ last attempt to ratify the treaty in August.

Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum is leading the charge against the treaty. Santorum, whose daughter was born with a rare genetic disorder, takes issue with protectionsthat allow the state to separate a child from a parent if “such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child,” such as in cases of emotional or physical abuse. At a press conference with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Santorum called this “a direct assault on us and our family.” 

The treaty, which bans discrimination against people with disabilities, was originally signed in 2006 under George W. Bush’s administration and re-signed in 2009 by President Obama. More than 150 nations have signed it and 126 have already ratified it, and it is backed by a range of disabilities and veterans groups as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

In fact, as Dana Milbank points out, the treaty requires other nations to model their laws on the Americans With Disabilities Act, which already forbids discrimination based on disability.

The ADA ensures that Santorum’s daughter, Bella, cannot be blocked from going to school or from receiving the medical treatment and accommodations she needs. In opposing the treaty, Santorum is actually opposing those same protections for other disabled people all around the world.

H/T: Aviva Shen at Think Progress

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