Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist said Monday that he disagrees with decisions by the state's current senators not to support a United Nations treaty on disability rights.
Frist said U.S. Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander are wrong to oppose the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because it will not conflict with United States law, including the 1990 Americans with Disability Act. Frist said the treaty is "non-self-executing," meaning it cannot create a legal cause of action or be the basis of a lawsuit.
The treaty fell six votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for ratification a year ago, but supporters have continued to push for its passage.
"Voting no to this treaty is saying that we do not think the global community deserves an ADA of their own," Frist said. "U.S. leadership matters. We should be at the table."
Corker has been seen as an especially influential vote because he is the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which held two hearings on the pact in November. But he and Alexander, a fellow Republican, said Friday they had not changed their minds about the treaty.
The Tennessee Disability Coalition also reacted with disappointment on Monday.
"We were shocked and saddened to learn than Senators Corker and Alexander have chosen to ignore the voices of Tennesseans with disabilities," said Carol Westlake, the group's executive director. "This is a betrayal of our community — of children and adults with disabilities, veterans, and the families that support them."