Skip to content

Harkin Statement on Senate Failure to Vote on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) released the following statement today following the objection of a Republican Senator to proceed to a vote and ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) – a treaty that builds upon the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to create a framework for disability rights laws in other countries. Harkin is the Senate author of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and has led the fight in the Senate to ratify the CRPD. He serves as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

“Since the passage of the ADA, the doors of opportunity have been opened to millions of Americans with disabilities. For the U.S. to live up to its role as a global leader on disability rights, we must extend the promise of equal access across the globe and bring the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to a vote by the full Senate as soon as possible. More than three-quarters of the countries in the world today have ratified this treaty.

“Today is another sad and irresponsible day in the U.S. Senate, and it is terribly disappointing to me, and to disability advocates around the country. The arguments made against ratifying the CRPD are misinformed and damaging, and a minority of Senators have blocked important progress on human rights based on fictitious rationale. This treaty would reaffirm America’s rightful place as the world leader in rights for people with disabilities. In an increasingly global economy, U.S. citizens with disabilities, including our veterans, too often face barriers when they travel, conduct business, study, or live overseas. Approving this measure would help to break down those barriers.

“I may be retiring from the Senate, but I’m not retiring from this fight. I will never retire from the fight for justice and equality for people with disabilities here and around the world.”

An American delegation under President George W. Bush negotiated and approved the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. The United States signed the treaty in 2009 and the President submitted it to the U.S. Senate in May 2012 for its advice and consent for ratification; a vote on the CRPD in December 2012 fell five votes short in 2012. The treaty requires no changes to U.S. laws or new appropriations.