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Dole, vets groups renew push for disability treaty

July 23, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Republican U.S. presidential nominee Bob Dole on Wednesday renewed his plea for full ratification of a treaty promoting equal rights for disabled around the world.

Veterans groups, organizations for the physically and mentally disabled joined the 91-year-old former Senate majority leader in increasing the pressure for a Senate vote.

In December 2012, Dole, looking frail and in a wheelchair, sat in the Senate chamber to show his support for the treaty. The appearance of the 1996 Republican nominee for president did little to sway opposition by fellow Republicans as the treaty fell five votes short of ratification.

Undeterred, Dole said on Wednesday that the treaty was “the right thing to do.”

The treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, extends many provisions in the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act. Advocates say it benefits American veterans and others working, studying or traveling abroad.

The treaty has been ratified by more than 130 countries, including Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

Republican objections concern U.S. sovereignty, abortion and home-schooled children. The Obama administration says the accord changes nothing in U.S. law.

Senators Kelly Ayotte and John McCain said opponents have distorted the facts about what the treaty does. McCain said he and a number of other proponents oppose abortion and would never back a treaty that undercuts restrictions.

Sen. Mark Kirk, who has returned to the Senate after suffering a stroke, described himself as a “recently disabled guy.” He said the treaty would be critical for disabled veterans.

“They fought for freedom around the world,” Kirk said. “They should be able to move freely around the world.”

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