John McCain has, for over a decade, been the go-to guy for Democrats any time they wanted legislation that would upend a constitutional amendment (see #1, #2, #4 and #14 for starters). McCain is old and has said he wouldn’t run again. That could create a problem for Democrats, being left with only Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio when they need a reliable vote on a close issue that removes American’s rights.
Well, never fear Harry & Chuck, help is on the way.
Bob Corker, author of the amendment to S744 that supposedly expands border security and convinced enough other Republican Senators to pass it on to the House has raised his head again. He must like the notoriety.
At issue is a UN treaty that supposedly will extend rights for disabled worldwide. ADA on steroids and under the bureaucracy of UN toadies. (I’m not a fan of the UN.)
The treaty fell five votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority in a 61-38 vote in December after former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) led a charge that it would give unelected UN bureaucrats the power to challenge U.S. home-schooling.
The point of contention here is the wording in the treaty – and treaties take legal precedent over the US Constitution – that can make the State the primary decision maker with respect to “the best interest of the child”. Here’s what the Home School Legal Defense Association had to say when this treaty came up last year.
… Article 7, Section 2 of the treaty requires that states ensure that “In all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.” The “best interest of the child” standard is one used in American family law. Under current law, however, only if a family is broken by a divorce or if a parent is convicted of neglect or abuse can the government substitute its view of what is best for the child for that of the parent. Parental rights are primary—the government’s judgment is only called upon when it becomes clear that parents are incapable of making decisions for the benefit of their children.
In contrast, the UNCRPD enjoins states to ensure that all actions concerning disabled children are made on the basis of the child’s best interest. In order for states to live up to their treaty obligations, they must necessarily make judgments about children’s best interests continuously. Should the government’s assessment of the child’s best interests differ from that of the parents, the government gets to make the decision, not the parents.
Treaty supporters say those worries were unfounded, and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations panel hopes to win approval of the treaty, a Senate Democratic aide said.
Menendez hopes to strike a deal on a way forward with the panel’s top Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who voted against the treaty last year.
Here’s the strategy.
The vote fell five votes short last year, it was defeated 61 – 38, it needed 66 votes to pass. Note: this is not legislation that will go to the House if passed by the Senate. Constitutionally, the Senate is the sole arbiter when it comes to treaty ratification. If this passes the Senate, it’s the law of the land.
First of all, Menendez insists that Home Schoolers’ concerns are unfounded. It’s not like an unelected bureaucracy would take liberties with their regulatory power, right? I mean, this is the United States of America! That could never happen with a US agency like the IRS or the EPA or OSHA or the BATF, right? So, plan to be labeled a “conspiracy theorist” if you oppose this treaty. Or Common Core for that matter.
Let’s look at the numbers, they need 66 votes.
… three of last year’s “no” votes were replaced – all of them by fellow Republicans: Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) have given way to Sens. Jeff Flake, Tim Scott and Ted Cruz.
Here’s what Marca Bristo, president of the U.S. International Council on Disabilities, an ally of Menendez and the UN, has to say.
Bristo said several lawmakers opposed the treaty in part because the vote was held during the lame-duck session, after the voters had cast their ballots for new lawmakers to make decisions on their behalf. And, she said, Democrat may allow amendments to address remaining issues for Republicans who are on the fence.
“There’s a variety of senators out there who we think if they stand by what they said are very gettable,” she said.
She’s also “very positive” Sen. Mark Kirk will join the “yes” column after being sidelined all last year because of a stroke.
In addition, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) had voted for the treaty in committee before voting “no” on the floor.
Treaty advocates say they have one more factor in their favor: Recent reversals on conservative social issues that have Republicans worried about their party’s appeal. …
“There comes a point when a lot of these galvanizing issues with a social component, when you’re on the wrong side of too many of them it has an effect,” [a] Democratic aide said. “You have voices within [the Republican] Caucus making the case that ‘we need to get our act together’.”
Bob Corker certainly got his act together on immigration and border security. The fact that he’s been lying about his amendment since day one is, I guess, something we should just overlook.
So, while the next month or so there will be a real and important focus on the House and what they’re going to do about border security and immigration reform – two mutually exclusive issues no matter what Marco Rubio says – we need to keep our eyes on the Senate. We especially need to keep our eyes on Bob Corker. He’s the Senate panel’s top Republican. He needs to find a spine as do a whole bunch of Republicans. And while we’re at it, they damn well better get their act together.