Thursday, February 27, 2014

The CRPD and Senator Blunt

Senator Blunt, (Republican, Missouri), has been in the Congress since 1996. He has held many leadership positions. He is well-known for getting things done. He serves on the Senate Appropriations subcommittees that fund the State Department and the Defense Department among others. He knows international issues and the importance of the United Nations, and cares about veterans. He serves on the subcommittee dealing with technology and the internet on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. He has a large technology company in his state. He is probably receptive to assistive technology and the sale of it overseas. He serves on the committee that authorizes defense projects, so he's in tune with the military, their families, and their needs. And finally, he serves on the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. That means, he is well-versed on Senate procedures and what it takes to get something passed.

He's up for reelection in 2016. And, like any other politician, he probably wants to broaden his base and keep his job.

Here's a sample of legislation he voted for, sponsored, or introduced:
• Voted for Iraq and Afghanistan War Funding, the Unemployment Benefits Extension, and GI Bill
• Voted for a resolution to urge President Obama to support a resolution on the human rights situation in China at the next session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (e.g., forced abortion, sterilization, extrajudicial killings, use of torture, Tibet)
• Voted for the Veterans Affairs and HUD Appropriations Act
• Co-sponsored a bill to cut red tape for families who adopt from abroad; and co-sponsored another bill to help support families that adopt abroad. The bill provides pre- and post-adoption support services, mental health treatment, and training. On this latter bill Senator Blunt said -- “This legislation will provide families with training and counseling throughout the adoption process, especially if their child has special needs... Every child deserves to grow up in a loving, safe and secure family…”
• Introduced a bill to support advocacy centers for child abuse victims.

This sample indicates Senator Blunt is interested in several things that are important to us -- human rights, technology, military personnel and veterans, prevention of abuse, and children with special needs. Any of these things could be the basis of a conversation about the disability rights treaty, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Also, he is pro-life. He has received endorsements from Catholic Families USA. If Senator Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, needs a bipartisan partner with whom to tackle text on a reservation on abortion, perhaps Senator Blunt is the man.

Here is Senator Blunt's contact information:

D.C.:  202.224.5721
Kansas City:  816.471.7141
Springfield:  417.877.7814
St. Louis:  314.725.4484
Cape Girardeau:  573.334.7044
Jefferson City:  573.634.2488
Columbia:  573.442.8162

Twitter:  @RoyBlunt

There is an opportunity here. We need to look at each Senator individually and urge each to be our partner in ratification. Please connect with Senator Blunt and ask him to support the CRPD. You could be especially helpful if you are from Missouri, are connected in some way to the military or veterans, have adopted a child, are an advocate for abuse prevention, or are in the assistive technology business. The time to do this is now.

Thank you.
Common Grounder

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The CRPD and Senator Isakson

Did you know on February 19, 2014 Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., co-sponsored S. 2026, legislation to exempt U.S. athletes competing in the Olympics and Paralympics from paying taxes on the medals and prize money they bring home? The legislation is also co-sponsored by Senators Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Chuck Shumer, D-N.Y., Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and John Hoeven, R-N.D. So? Senator Isakson and other co-sponsors value what U.S. athletes represent. Our pride. Our achievement. Our standing in the world. Could not the commitment of Senator Isakson and the other Senators be extended to helping us with the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)? I say yes, if we ask.

From visiting Senator Isakson's website, I get the sense that he is a practical man, a problem solver. He is not afraid of bipartisanship. He seems to have an appreciation of thinking out of the box and collaborating. In December 2013 with others from both sides of the isle and both the House and Senate, he launched, as co-chair with Senator Heitkamp and Reps. Farr and Jenkins, the Defense Communities Caucus. This caucus is focused on helping communities where military installations are located and where many veterans and their families, as well as those who are on active duty, live.  If veterans were to reach out to Senator Isakson on the CRPD, they may get a receptive ear. Those who have experience overseas or are planning to go could share stories about the impact of and need for shared policies on disability rights and accessibility.

Finally, Senator Isakson, is a member of two committees that are very important to people with disabilities -- the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Wouldn't it be of value to us to approach him now on the CRPD and begin to develop a long-term relationship with him, so we would have his ear when entitlement and rehabilitation issues come up on the committees on which he serves?

Here is his contact information:
Washington, D.C.: 202.224.3643
Atlanta:  770.661.0999
Website from which you may leave a message:
Twitter: @SenatorIsakson

There are potential allies in the Senate for ratification. Senator Isakson is one of them. Please contact him. I know he will listen. He cares about things that are important to us. Use them to start the conversation.

Thank you.
Common Grounder