Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Senator Rubio and the CRPD

Senator Rubio is seen as a force to be reckoned within the Republican Party. He has given the Republican response to one of President Obama's State of the Union speeches. He has given major speeches, lasting 30 minutes or more, on foreign policy at both conservative and liberal gatherings, with less than two years in the Senate under his belt. He has joined forces with Democrats on tough issues like immigration reform.

His website focuses on issues like veterans and seniors, emphasizing that we need to do better for and by them.

The three themes that shout out at us through his videos, press releases, and speeches are 1) whether we like it or not, the U.S. is the leader of the world, so we should act like it; 2) the bottom line is freedom and opportunity; by making them more readily available and helping them thrive, we make things better for everyone; and 3) we must never forget and always stay true to the principles on which our country was founded.

Senator Rubio says he has been inspired by his grandfather who had polio, went to work every day, walking some distance, to support his family. He says he has also been inspired by his parents, who emigrated from Cuba, and worked very hard to ensure that Senator Rubio and his siblings had benefits and opportunities that they had not had.

Pundits and friends of Senator Rubio indicate that throughout his political career he has been mentored by Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida. I met Jeb Bush when he was governor. He was giving a speech to a large gathering of disability advocates in Tampa. Before his speech he and I, on a long slow walk down the loading dock behind the Convention Center, talked about how to improve services to families who had children with disabilities with multiple needs, how to increase the employment rate of individuals with disabilities, and what the governor was doing to empower people with disabilities in Florida. When he gave the speech that day, Jeb Bush did not use notes, and yet he shared tons of facts and statistics with those of us in the audience.

I offer this collection of points to make a few more. I hope somewhere in Senator Rubio's brain is stored some thoughts about disability, learned from his grandfather and Jeb Bush, which will breakthrough and cause him to publicly support ratification of the Convention on the Rights of a Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). If Senator Rubio wants the U.S. to refresh its mantle as a world leader, to speak and act in the name of equality, freedom, and human rights, and help open greater opportunities for veterans and seniors, then surely he can support the ratification of the CRPD.

The only substantive objection Senator Rubio has consistently voiced about the CRPD has been to text in one paragraph in Article 25, the article related to health care.  He has said, as is, it would expand abortion rights in the U.S. Since he is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has joined Chairman Menendez on a successful resolution on Syria, I can see no reason why these two Senators cannot find common ground related to Senator Rubio's concern about Article 25.

Senator Rubio has the opportunity to help us achieve ratification of the CRPD. Especially those who live in Florida, those who are veterans, and those who are seniors should seize this moment and ask him to do just that.

Here is his contact information:

Washington DC:  202.224.3041
Orlando:  407.254.2573
Toll free in Florida:  866.630.7173
Tampa:  813.287.5035
Miami:  305.418.8553
Naples:  239.213.1521
Pensacola:  850.433.2603
Palm Beach:  561.775.3360
Tallahassee:  850.599.9100
Jacksonville:  904.398.8586

Website:  www.rubio.senate.gov
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/MarcoRubio
Twitter:  @marcorubio

Thank you.
Common Grounder

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