WASHINGTON — Former Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas sat slightly slumped in his wheelchair on the Senate floor on Tuesday, staring toward Sen. John Kerry as he gave his most impassioned speech all year, in defense of a United Nations treaty that would ban discrimination against people with disabilities.
Then, after Dole’s wife, Elizabeth, rolled him off the floor, Republicans quietly voted down the treaty that the ailing Dole, recently released from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, so longed to see passed.
A majority of Republicans who voted against the treaty said they feared that it would infringe on U.S. sovereignty.
Among their fears were that it would allow U.N. bureaucrats would be empowered to make decisions about the needs of disabled children — and that it could trump state laws concerning people with disabilities. Proponents of the bill said these concerns were unfounded.