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article imageGOP & Democrats spar over UN Disability Treaty in US Senate

By Can Tran     Nov 27, 2012 in Politics
Senate Republicans, led by Utah Senator Mike Lee, are voicing opposition to the ratification of the UN disability treaty called the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
As the 112th United States Congress will come to an end soon, there are still plenty of things for the Republican and Democratic parties to spar on. Currently, the 112th US Congress is in a lame-duck session. This Congress will conclude on January 3, 2013. On that same day, the 113th US Congress is scheduled to convene. However, there's still a little over a month before the 112th US Congress ends. In regards to the United States Senate, which Democrats managed to keep control of after the 2012 US Elections, there is a spar going on between both parties in regards the UN Disability Treaty known as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Back in 2006, this was signed under the administration of then-US President George W. Bush. It was modeled after the 1990 law known as the Americans with Disabilities Act. Current US President Barack Obama signed the convention back in 2009. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is said to be signed by a little over 150 nations. 126 of those nations have ratified the UN Disability Treaty.
Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, asked the Senate to consider ratifying this treaty. So far, it seems highly unlikely that this treaty will get ratified. Republican Senators have voiced their opposition to the treaty.
Leading the opposition is GOP Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Lee said that he had concerns about this treaty. He said that that ratifying the UN Disability Treaty would subject the United States laws to a United Nations bureaucracy. Lee was backed by GOP Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina. According to DeMint, conservatives complain would allow the federal government to force parents that have special needs children to be placed in public schools.
GOP Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, through a spokesman, supports the objective of the treaty; but, he objects to the method the treaty uses to achieve the objective. In this respect, he respects the treaty but opposes it on the grounds that it could endanger the sovereignty of the United States.
Also, Rick Santorum went and weighed in on the treaty as well and voiced his opposition. Santorum is a former GOP Senator. For the 2012 US Presidential Election race, Santorum competed in the GOP primary. The nomination eventually went to former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Romney was defeated by Democratic incumbent Barack Obama.
Santorum gave his reasons for opposing the UN Disability Treaty. He said that the treaty would take authority away from the parents when deciding what's best for the children. Santorum said that unless the parents are unfit to make decisions, they ultimately have the decision making authority. He said that this has been clear throughout history of the United States. Santorum compared the treaty to opening Pandora's Box.
Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts led support for the UN Disability Treaty. Currently, Kerry is the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 2004, Kerry was the Democratic nominee for the 2004 US Presidential race. He had lost to GOP incumbent George W. Bush. Kerry, in his defense of the treaty, said that the UN can only give recommendations for changes. Also, the UN cannot force nations to change laws.
Dana Milbank, in a Washington Post opinion piece, said that opposition to the treaty comes out of conspiracy theories. He points out if the treaty had bad intentions, it wouldn't have gotten strong support from veteran and disabilities groups. One name Milbank mentioned was GOP Senator John McCain of Arizona. McCain was the GOP nominee in the 2008 US Elections.
The opinion piece does mention the “fiscal cliff” which is the major economic talk in Congress. Milbank questioned if the Congress cannot move forward on a treaty that protects the disabled, how are they going to agree on how to deal with the fiscal cliff. This opinion piece was named “Santorum's new cause: opposing the disabled.” From the name of the entry, this piece took specific pot shots at Santorum.
This is proof that, even after the elections and in a lame-duck session, Democrats and Republicans still have plenty to spar about.
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