U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement expressing disappointment in the Senate's failure to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty, an international agreement for protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities.
"I am extremely disheartened that the Senate failed to ratify a treaty that would confirm our nation's leadership in ensuring the rights of individuals with disabilities. Senate Republicans chose politics over the guarantee of equal access and opportunities for people with disabilities around the world. This landmark treaty ensures disabled Americans -- including veterans -- have equal access and protection from discrimination when they work, study, travel, or live in other countries. For more than 20 years through the Americans with Disabilities Act, we have led the world in how to equitably treat and fully integrate individuals with disabilities into society. Now is not the time to turn our backs on advancing the rights for persons with disabilities. As we look ahead to the next Congress, I urge my Senate colleagues and disability advocates to continue to fight to expand worldwide the rights that Americans already enjoy."
Modeled after the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.N. treaty would require that individuals with disabilities have the same fundamental rights as those without disabilities. The treaty, which is already signed by 155 nations and ratified by 126 countries, including Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, would require no changes to U.S. law. A recent report released by the World Health Organization indicated about 15 percent of the world's population are living with a disability. The treaty failed on a vote of 61 to 38.