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Treaties: The Senate’s mixed record
In recent years, senators have been skeptical of international agreements. Here’s what happened to three recent treaties.
Storified by Digital First Media · Thu, Dec 13 2012 11:59:46
The recent rejection of a United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled was not unexpected. Under the Constitution, treaties require 67 votes in the Senate, a pretty high bar. And in recent years, senators have been skeptical of international agreements. Here’s what happened to three recent treaties.
Convention on the Rights of Persons withDisabilities
Former Sen. Bob Dole was wheeled into the Senate Chamber on Dec. 4. (AP Photo/CSPAN2)
The United Statespassed the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, under Republican PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush. It is one of the most comprehensive laws in the world toprotect people with disabilities.
Nearly two decadeslater, the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities was adopted bythe U.N. General Assembly. It was signed by President Obama on June 30, 2009,but only taken up by the Senate this month.
The treaty had widebipartisan support. Former Senate majority leader and Republican presidentialcandidate Bob Dole — who is reported to be very ill — arrived on the Senatefloor in a wheelchair to show his support of the treaty. Dole was
critically wounded in World War II and has had to live with his disabilities in the yearssince.
Law of the Sea Treaty
U.S. Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Mounted Police boat crews they conduct joint small boat training in 2012. (AP Photo/Petty Officer 1st Class Chris Lippert, U.S. Coast Guard)
The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, also sometimescall the Law of the Sea Treaty, sets rules for the management of off-shoreareas and use of the world’s oceans.
Written in 1982, the treaty is supported by both environmentalists and business interests who believe it helps codify the rules under which natural resources can be developed.
In July, 32 Republican senators
signed a letter
stating their opposition to the treaty, effectively scuttling it. Supporters, such as Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska,
that the Senate could pass it.
New START Treaty
President Barack Obama signs the New START Treaty, in the Oval Office in 2011. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
First proposed by President Ronald Reagan, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) treaty was alandmark agreement to reduce nuclear weapons between the United States and theSoviet Union.
When it expired in 2009, President Obama proposed anotheragreement with Russia known as the New START treaty.
Under the treaty, the number of strategic nuclear missiles would be cut by half, among other things.
Although opposed by some conservative activists andpresidential candidate Mitt Romney, the treaty was supported by all six livingformer Republican secretaries of state.