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UN disabilities treaty fails US Senate

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A resolution to support the rights of people with disabilities has failed the U.S. Senate.

The Resolution of Advice and Consent to Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a United Nations resolution, was defeated in a 61-38 vote. The resolution needed 66 votes to pass.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., voted in favor of the resolution Dec. 4. Manchin said he was disappointed the treaty did not pass the Senate.

"This treaty asks that the world community treat people with the same dignity and compassion that we treat people with here in the United States," Manchin said in a statement after the vote. "I proudly support this bipartisan treaty because it benefits disabled American veterans who want to travel or work abroad. The treaty merely functions as a model to the world on how we treat people at home and reaffirms our commitments to how others should treat Americans abroad. Most importantly, it takes away no rights and creates no new laws."

The treaty has earned the support of more than 300 organizations, including 21 veterans and military service organizations.

The treaty provides protection for people with disabilities in a broad range of areas, including equality and nondiscrimination, equal recognition before the law and access to justice. It also establishes a Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to periodically examine reports prepared by countries on the steps they've taken to implement the treaty. This committee can issue only non-binding recommendations to countries and the recommendations have no enforcement power. The Department of Justice, the Foreign Relations Committee, the executive branch and other advocates have clarified the treaty will be applied consistently with current U.S. law and will not change existing federal or state law, according to Manchin's office.

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