Monday, July 14, 2014

CRPD and Governors

Many of us expected that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would put the CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (CRPD) on its agenda for July 16. It did not. Republican Senators, who support the treaty, asked Senator Menendez, the committee chairman, for a little more time to talk with their colleagues. Now we anticipate that there will be a markup of a resolution on the CRPD the third week in July. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee usually has its business meetings, where it deals with legislation such as a CRPD resolution, on Wednesdays.

The Senate takes a break at the end of July and does not return until after Labor Day. At that time it'll probably be focused on appropriations and not have time to address the CRPD. In September the plan is to do what absolutely needs to be done and to adjourn at the end of the month and not to return until after the elections in November. So July is the best time, perhaps the only time, we have to secure ratification of the CRPD.

On Friday Vice President Joe Biden addressed the National Governors Association summer meeting. He suggested that they may be our best chance to get past the current political gridlock ( That is a valid point. Governors have to work with all sides to get things accomplished in their states. They are doing a lot in the absence of much action from Congress. Perhaps governors could help us encourage Senators to hold a vote on ratification of the CRPD. Why would they? Increasingly, governors are leading trade delegations of U.S. companies overseas. They want smooth sailing. When they talk with foreign governments they do not want unanticipated roadblocks, such as -- "the U.S. has not ratified the CRPD" -- when they attempt to facilitate new business opportunities for companies from their states.

The National Governors Association website ( has a tab called "current governors" that will take you to contact information for your governor. I urge you to contact your governor next week and ask him/her to ask your Senators to support ratification CRPD. Here are the points you can make.

1. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a UN treaty that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disabilities just as the ADA does.

2.  Thousands of people with disabilities, their families and friends, and over 800 national organizations, U.S. companies, and veterans groups support ratification of the CRPD.

3.  Over 145 countries have already ratified the CRPD.

4.  If the U.S. were to ratify the CRPD, U.S. companies that manufacture and sell assistive technology would have easier access to overseas markets into the future.

5. If the U.S. were to ratify the CRPD, the U. S. would have a seat at the table when international standards on accessibility are being developed.

6. If the U.S. were to ratify the CRPD, the U.S. would have the right to advocate for accessibility and opportunities for U.S. citizens with disabilities when they travel, work, and live abroad.

7.  If the U.S. were to ratify the CRPD, our standing and credibility on civil and human rights would be restored and strengthened.

8. Ratification of the CRPD would not require new laws or trigger new costs.

Please share these points with your governor's office. Please ask your governor to speak with your Senators. This one action on your part could bring about Senate ratification of the CRPD.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

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