Saturday, December 21, 2013

Senator Corker and the CRPD

When you watch someone for four plus hours in two hearings, you can't help but develop a sense of who they are. I watched Senator Bob Corker, Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during the committee hearings on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He appeared to be struggling earnestly to find a way to support the CRPD. So my heart flipped when I learned of his current position -- unable to support ratification -- yesterday in a blog, Also, many questions raced through my head --
Why now?
What triggered it?
Why a blog?
Why, in conjunction with Senator Lamar Alexander, a fellow Senator from Tennessee, up for re-election in 2014, facing a primary challenge?

I worked for a former Senator, Bill Frist from Tennessee, a physician who became Senate Majority Leader. He does extensive humanitarian work in Africa and elsewhere now. He supports ratification of the CRPD. While working for him I developed a strong sense of the values and beliefs he held and practiced. I met thousands of people from the state who valued independence, opportunity, empowerment, and equality. They understood committing to participation by and inclusion of people with disabilities does not stop at borders. Later, after hurricane Katrina, I worked with these same great Tennesseans when they opened their homes, programs, and hearts to people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas impacted by Katrina.

My experiences with so many wonderful people in Tennessee will not let me accept that we have heard the final position from Senator Corker on the CRPD. I believe that if he and Senator Menendez talk, they can find a way to ratification. Please join me in contacting Senator Corker (202.224.3344; Twitter -@SenBobCorker, #SenBobCorker) and ask him to talk alone with Senator Menendez. These are men that understand the importance of the U.S. standing both here and abroad. These are men capable of finding the words to put in a resolution to get the CRPD ratified. Their staffs have tried and are to be commended, but now these two gentlemen must use their experience, skill, intellect, relationship, and good will to get the CRPD ratified in January 2014. They can do it if we show both of them our support and appreciation.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Senate January 2014 Schedule and the CRPD

According to Roll Call (a Capital Hill newspaper; the Senate returns to D.C. on January 6, 2014 and stays in until January 23, 2014, takes 4 days in home states and returns to D.C. on January 27, 2014. Assuming the "first day" and "last day" in a week where a recess occurs is often a "travel day", we could be looking at 11 days in which work could be done with all Senators in DC. (Martin Luther King Day is January 20th, so that's another lost day).  Anther complication is a lot of Senate committee business occurs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So, that means the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has 5 or 6 days available in January 2014 in which to hold a mark up. The later in January the committee holds a mark up on the CRPD, the fewer days available for the full Senate to vote on the CRPD.

By January 15, 2014 appropriators need to have authorized dollars to correspond to the miraculous, though modest, bipartisan budget deal reached this month. Otherwise, we face the possibility of another government shut down.

In February 2014 election campaigning for the entire House and one-third of the Senate begins in earnest. The little, sweet taste we had of bipartisanship probably will come to a screeching halt.

So, unless we advocate with great vigor for ratification of the CRPD by Martin Luther King Day (January 20th), we may lose our last real chance to see the CRPD ratified in 2014. If we face up to these calendar realities, maybe we can push to get the Senate to do what it must -- ratify the CRPD.

Thank you.
Common Grounder