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Public Statements

Langevin Denounces Senate Vote Against Encouraging Disability Rights Worldwide

Statement

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Having joined Senators John Kerry and John McCain Monday at a news conference urging passage of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) expressed major disappointment today when the Senate failed to ratify the treaty, which seeks to extend many of the principles of the Americans with Disabilities Act to people with disabilities around the world and to Americans, including disabled veterans, who are traveling or living abroad. The final vote was 61-38, with a two-thirds majority required for ratification.

Langevin, who co-chairs the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus and is the first quadriplegic to serve in Congress, went to the Senate floor to speak with Senators about the significance of the treaty before the vote.

"As the country that set the standard for recognizing the rights of people with disabilities when we passed the Americans with Disabilities Act more than 20 years ago, I am saddened that a specious and irrational case against this treaty prevailed today. We have failed to capitalize on a unique chance to give opportunities to millions of people around the world.

"As we heard yesterday from Dick Thornburgh, Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush, nothing in this document would change the law of the United States. Instead, it would have provided the United States a leadership role in efforts to improve conditions abroad, including for Americans.

"I would like to thank Senators John Kerry, John McCain and Tom Harkin, who demonstrated true bipartisan leadership on the rights of people with disabilities, and express my appreciation to the Senators who joined them in supporting the treaty, including Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, from my home state of Rhode Island.

"While this is a major setback, this fight will not end today. I have long said that people with disabilities are America's greatest untapped resource. The same is true across the world. By opening the doors of opportunity, accessibility to buildings and transportation, health care, education, and employment, I know that we can help every individual fulfill his or her potential and participate fully in his or her community. It shouldn't be only in America that someone in a wheelchair can rise to one of the country's highest offices."


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