Bob Dole Historic Appearance on Senate Floor Not Enough To Get Disabilities Treaty Passed

Dole's appearance on the Senate floor marks the first time a retired majority leader came back to the Senate for a vote.

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This handout video image provided by CSPAN2 shows former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, right, wheeled into the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4,2012, by his wife Elizabeth Dole.
This handout video image provided by CSPAN2 shows former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, right, wheeled into the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4,2012, by his wife Elizabeth Dole.

Bob Dole, who was hospitalized at Walter Reed just one week ago, made a surprise appearance on the Senate floor Monday to show his support for the UN disabilities treaty, opposed by many Republicans. Dole was accompanied by his wife and former North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole.  More than a dozen people with disabilities were also in attendance.

Democratic Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who made a passionate appeal for the treaty, said Dole's appearance marked what Kerry believes is the first time a former Senate majority leader used his privileges to come to the Senate for a vote. According to Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin, the appearance was intended to be "a dramatic effort to force any Republicans who intended to vote against the treaty to walk past him to do so."

[MORE: Republican Opposition Downs UN Disability Treaty]

Despite Dole's efforts, the treaty failed to get the two-thirds vote needed Tuesday, defeated by a vote of 61-38. After the treaty failed, a shout could be heard and a woman began crying in the hallway.

The treaty, which was negotiated during the George W. Bush administration, would have made no change to U.S. law, but required 126 signatories around the world to update their laws for people with disabilities.

Republicans, including Tea Party favorite, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, made a last-ditch effort to oppose ratification by the Senate, saying some were worried about the treaty's impact on the authority of America.

"This treaty isn't about changing America, it's about America changing the world," Kerry argued in a passionate speech Tuesday, accusing those opposing the treaty of "distorting" politics. Kerry compared the ratification of the treaty to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying the vote would show whether the Senate was "still capable of voting to change things."

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"This is not about the United Nations, this is about common humanity," he said.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at eflock@usnews.com.