The Senate fell five votes short of ratifying a United Nations treaty promoting the rights of the disabled, with 38 Republicans voting against ratification and eight voting with every Democrat voting in favor. (International treaties require a two-thirds majority.) The treaty, modeled after the American With Disabilities Act, has been signed by 155 nations and ratified by 126. It encourages countries to make sure the disabled have the same rights as other citizens. A frail former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kansas) was in the chamber to support ratification, but dissenting Republicans argued that the treaty could violate U.S. sovereignty and should be considered in a regular session of Congress, not the lame duck session. Supporters said the treaty couldn't affect U.S. law or open the U.S. to lawsuits, and instead encouraged other nations to emulate the landmark 1990 U.S. law. "It really isn't controversial," says Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) "What this treaty says is very simple. It just says that you can't discriminate against the disabled."
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