Monday, July 21, 2014

CRPD and Room S-116 in the Capitol

I have never been in S-116 of the Capitol. I tried to find its seating capacity, but had no luck. Given what it is used for, I sense that it has limited seating capacity. Here's what the Senate Foreign Relations Committee website has to say about it --

These rooms, S–116 and S–117, were first occupied around 1859 with the completion of the new Senate wing of the Capitol. Until their assignment to the Foreign Relations Committee, the rooms housed a variety of tenants. Former occupants, whose names are reflective of the concerns of a growing nation, included the committees on Retrenchment, Patents, Agriculture, Immigration, Territories, Female Suffrage, and Naval Affairs. At the turn of the century, S–116 even served as the Senate’s post office.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee uses these rooms to receive visiting dignitaries and to conduct national security briefings and hearings in executive session. The rooms have hosted American presidents, heads of foreign nations, secretaries of state and defense, ambassadors, and others who have informed and advised the committee in its fulfillment of the Senate’s constitutional role in foreign policy.
The question nagging me is -- "Why was this room picked by Chairman Menendez for the mark up of the resolution on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)"? It is important now for us to know what members of the Committee are saying to each other about the CRPD. It is important for us to hear about existing objections and attempts to resolve them. It is important for us to have a sense of how strongly and passionately objections are held. We need all of this to guide us as we approach Senators about their floor vote. None of this contextual information will be ours to weigh if we can't get in the room. A report on the CRPD will not have such information.
We have been encouraged to come to the Capitol tomorrow at 10 am even if we can't get into S-116, although there are hints that some might get in S-116. Some have said we need to be a physical presence.   We are more than visual aids. We are entitled in large numbers to watch and ponder how the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations debates and constructs a CRPD resolution "live". The fact that that is not likely to happen is very regrettable and does not send a welcoming message to those who have worked so long and hard to make the case for ratification of the CRPD.

Thank you.
Common Grounder
New book, A Moral Imperative: U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, http://t.co/Vigyant7aM

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