Ted Kennedy Jr. didn’t learn about disability issues from his late father, Sen. Edward Kennedy, a longtime healthcare advocate. Young Ted learned about illness the hard way, losing a leg to cancer as a boy. So the Senate’s rejection on Tuesday of a U.N. treaty on rights for the disabled was a personal blow. “For disabled Americans, we feel the Republican Party has really turned their backs,” said Kennedy Jr.
On Wednesday’s Hardball, Sen. John Kerry and Ted Kennedy Jr. criticized Senate Republicans. The treaty essentially says that disabled Americans are afforded the same rights overseas as they are at home. Its already been ratified by more than 125 countries. But with 38 GOPers voting no, the roll call fell five votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to ratify the legislation. Only eight GOPers voted in favor of the treaty, despite a bipartisan group, including Kerry and Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain, endorsing it.
Some Republicans contended that by signing the treaty, the United States would surrender some sovereignty to the United Nations.
Not the case, said Kerry.
“There is no requirement in this treaty whatsoever that any law in the United States would be changed, no new right was created that doesn’t exist already in the United States, and most importantly because of the terminology of the treaty…it’s not self-executing, that means nobody has recourse in any court in the United States of American to enforce the treaty,” said the Massachusetts Democrat.
Kerry said the treaty was important because it’s “based on the gold standard of how America treats people with disabilities” and it “raises other countries to our standard.” He said Republicans who voted against the measure “turned their back…out of completely fictitious, totally made up, entirely fear marketing rationale.”
Kennedy Jr. the eldest son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, pointed out that 21 leading veterans organizations, including the VFW and the American Legion have backed the treaty, in addition to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Kerry is hopeful the treaty will pass next year. Additional language would help ameliorate GOP concerns, he said. And “there are several senators who have said to me, when we’re out of the lame duck session and beyond the fiscal cliff, they’ll be prepared to vote for it,” Kerry said.