The vote was 61-38, and failed to reach the 2/3 majority needed for passage.
The 2006 treaty, which forbids discrimination of the disabled, has enjoyed bipartisan support. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the treaty would encourage other nations to develop the kind of protections the United States adopted 22 years ago with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The international treaty’s thrust, he said, was a message: “Be more like us.”
But the treaty has split Republicans. Among its most vocal supporters were Republican war veterans, including President George H.W. Bush and former senator Bob Dole, who was injured in World War II and made a rare return to the Senate floor Tuesday to observe the vote and lend his stature.
Other conservatives were deeply suspicious of the United Nations, which would oversee treaty obligations. Those who opposed the treaty included former senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, the father of a developmentally disabled child who had traveled to Capitol Hill last week to encourage fellow Republicans to vote no.
He and other conservatives argued that the treaty could relinquish U.S. sovereignty to a U.N. committee charged with overseeing a ban on discrimination and determining how the disabled, including children, should be treated. They particularly worried that the committee could violate the rights of parents who choose to home school their disabled children.