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“Congress needs to devote all its attention in December to a budget agreement that reforms entitlement spending, reduces the debt and avoids the fiscal cliff. There’s plenty of time to consider treaties, including the disability treaty, after the first of the year,” the statement read.
When asked whether he was disappointed in his colleagues for not backing the measure, Barrasso, the only member of GOP leadership to support the treaty, demurred.
“I co-sponsored this. I voted for it in committee. Voted for it on the floor. I am an orthopedic surgeon and so I’ve practiced medicine for 25 years and for all that time, I was a host of the Jerry Lewis Labor Day telethon for people with muscle disease. I read the treaty and I support it,” Barrasso told Roll Call. “Every member of the Senate gets to make their own decision when they give advise and consent on treaties. And every senator is asked to vote, and I voted in favor of the treaty today. You read different things and different concerns, so I don’t question or criticize any other member for the vote.”
Barrasso added that there was a small reception for Dole outside the Senate Foreign Relations Committee room before the vote, and he said he, Collins and McCain, along with several Democrats, “met to honor” the former Kansas Senator and his wife.
After the vote, Heritage Action for America CEO Michael A. Needham released the following statement: “We congratulate the Senators who stood for American sovereignty by refusing to ratify this treaty. While today’s vote is important, it does not mark the end of the fight. Bad treaties never die in Washington and Heritage Action will remain vigilant.”
Last week on the floor, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., characterized Dole’s health status as “infirm.” The current majority leader had a brief conversation with the former majority leader before the roll was called.
“It is a sad day when we cannot pass a treaty that simply brings the world up to the American standard for protecting people with disabilities because the Republican party is in thrall to extremists and ideologues,” Reid said after the vote. “I plan to bring this treaty up for a vote again in the next Congress. Our wounded veterans and millions more around the world deserve better.”
An earlier version of this article misstated how many Republican members supported the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.