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Congressional Record Statement of U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley Regarding the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


Location: Washington, DC

Mr. President -- The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has the admirable goal of advancing the interests and rights of the disabled across the world. However, I have great concerns about acceding to this Convention. I'm also disappointed that the Senate will dedicate just two hours of debate to consider this Convention, without the ability for any Senators to offer or consider worthy amendments.

U.S. leadership in advancing and safeguarding the rights of the disabled is unmatched. The United States is the leader on disability issues. It's for this reason that the Convention is modeled on the disability rights laws of the United States. However, I have serious doubts that simply joining the Convention will lead to greater U.S. influence in promoting disability rights abroad. The ability of the United States to lead on this issue is not and should not be dependent upon joining this Convention. We can lead on disability rights abroad because we lead on disability rights at home.

Joining this Convention will have no impact on the disability rights of Americans in this country. Americans with disabilities are already afforded the rights contained with the treaty. Many Federal and State laws protect the rights of the disabled, including the Americans with Disabilities Act. Even proponents of the Convention acknowledge that it will not enhance the rights of individuals with disabilities in America.

We have made great strides in disability policy in America. Laws which I authored, such as the Family Opportunity Act and Money Follows the Person, not only gave the disabled health care coverage but gave them real self-determination in that health care coverage. In the future, I will continue to work to protect coverage of the disabled during difficult budgetary times and work to find solutions for the disabled that allow for coordination of support services across all an individual's needs. While I respect the concerns and goals of supporters of this treaty, we should not let this take the place of focusing on problems and solutions here in America.

However, becoming a party to the Convention would subject the United States to the eighteen-member Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This Committee is created to monitor the implementation of the Convention and provide conclusions and recommendations with regard to State Party's treaty reports. I have serious concerns about the infringement upon U.S. sovereignty by a committee tasked with providing criticisms and recommendations for the United States on our disability laws.

Further, the Convention raises additional concerns by unnecessarily including references in the area of "sexual and reproductive health" and the "best interests of the child." These provisions call into question the purpose of the Convention regarding abortion rights and the fundamental rights of parents to determine how best to raise their children.

It is for these reasons, along with the decision of the Majority Leader to shut out the rights of Senators by prohibiting the consideration of any amendments, that I oppose this Convention. I yield.

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