Congress is inching closer to ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted July 26 by a 13 to 6 vote to move the treaty to a full vote in the Senate, where it must be approved by two-thirds of its members.
However, the Senate broke for its August recess before casting a vote for the treaty, which has run into opposition from some prominent Republicans and homeschooling advocates.
The treaty, which is largely modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, was created in 2006 and signed by President Barack Obama in 2009. More than 150 countries have signed the treaty and more than 100 have ratified it.
President Obama submitted the treaty to the Senate for passage in May. In mid-July, the treaty was temporarily held up by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), who contends that the treaty threatens American sovereignty and the rights of parents of people with disabilities.
The Home School Legal Defense Association, and former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, have also pushed back against the treaty, which is also opposed by some anti-abortion groups, such as the Susan B. Anthony List.
Former Republican Presidential Candidate Bob Dole and former Rep. Tony Coehlo (D-Calif.), both of whom had disabilities, wrote an editorial in the Hill on July 18 urging the Senate to approve the treaty.
“During this Congress, the United States has a rare opportunity to share our disability rights commitment with other countries…Since the U.S. has been a leader in ensuring rights for individuals with disabilities, ratification does not require changes to laws in the U.S. Ratification would signal to the world that the U.S. is committed to international standards for disability rights and will play a leadership role in implementation of the treaty obligations,” they wrote.