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Ayotte, Shaheen support failed U.N. rights treaty

December 04. 2012 8:49PM

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen on Tuesday supported a failed effort in the Senate to ratify a United Nations treaty, advocating equal rights for disabled people.

Supporters said the treaty is based on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and would help protect disabled Americans abroad.

Opponents said the treaty was an infringement on U.S. sovereignty.

Ayotte was among only eight Republicans who supported ratification.

In a statement, she said her vote supported "the efforts of disabled Americans to live, study, and work abroad."

The treaty, called "The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities," or CRPD, had the support of more than 20 veterans groups, more than 300 disability organizations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and John Kerry, D-Mass., former President George H.W. Bush, and former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., who went to the Senate floor Tuesday to support the treaty. However, while 61 senators supported the treaty and 38 opposed it, approval of two-thirds of the present senators was needed for ratification. As a result, it failed.

Ayotte said, "Senate ratification of this treaty would reflect America's leadership role in breaking down barriers for disabled individuals. It would take a step toward making it easier for disabled Americans to live and work overseas, without impinging on U.S. sovereignty or Congress' authority to determine our disability laws. Veterans service groups are especially supportive of the treaty, which would help level the playing field for disabled veterans who are abroad."

Ayotte's statement said 117 countries have ratifided the treaty, which, the statement said, would not require changes to U.S. law and is not directly enforceable in U.S. courts.

According to Ayotte's statement, the following veterans service organizations have indicated their support of CRPD: AMVETS, Air Force Sergeants Association, Air Force Women Officers Associated, American GI Forum, Association of the United States Navy, Blinded Veterans Association, Disabled Americans Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Jewish War Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, National Association for Black Veterans, National Guard Association of the United States, National Military Family Association, Paralyzed Veterans of America, The American Legion, Veterans for Common Sense, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Veterans of Modern Warfare, VetsFirst (a program of United Spinal Association), Vietnam Veterans of America, and Wounded Warrior Project.

Democrat Shaheen did not issue a statement commenting on the treaty but a spokesman said she voted for ratification.

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