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tv   Washington This Week  CSPAN  November 24, 2013 3:00pm-5:01pm EST

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testify, i would love to see the advancement of rights for the disability -- for the disabled around the world. i would love to see that happen. i would love to see america continue to play a role in advancing those kinds of things. as i just mentioned, it is absolutely incumbent on the administration to agree to very difficult language that ensures in every single case that a treaty like this will not infringe upon federalism and other kinds of issues that are very important, i think, to people on both sides of the dais. i think that this hearing will be more about substance and less about cheerleading, and i hope that the secretary's testimony will reflect that in his answers to the questions. i thank you for being here and appreciate the chairman for having the hearing. i look forward to a substituted
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hearing. i appreciate all the witnesses who have come here today. >> mr. secretary, the floor is yours. >> thank you. mr. chairman, ranking member corker, members of the committee, thanks very much for welcoming me here to talk about the disabilities treaty, which i am very anxious to do. mindful of the comments of the ranking member just now, i would just start off by saying we are 100% prepared as we have been to work through what are known as rud's -- reservations, understandings, and declarations in order to pass this treaty. that is our goal. as we begin with a place that makes it clear that we do not believe this has impact among but we are happy to restate and reassert the law in ways that makes senators feel comfortable, obviously. we want to pass this. it is not lost on any of us that
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only 11 months ago the senate fell just five votes short of approving this treaty. so more than 60 senators have already resolved in their minds many of the questions that are reraised again and again. we can go into them. those days when we ended up five votes short, when people changed so it was closer, that was a rough day for a lot of us who supported the treaty, including senator mccain, who is hardly a newcomer to this issue and is one of the most eloquent voices for why we ought to be doing this, for why, to put it bluntly, this treaty is in america's interests. in the after-action
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conversations that i have had with many senators, republicans and democrats alike, and including a number of who voted against the treaty -- you saw senator corker and others -- i even heard some regret about what had transpired and the unintended message that the outcome sent to americans with disabilities, as well as other people around the world. and i heard from many, not just a willingness, but a hope that they would have a chance in a new congress to take up the treaty again and to demonstrate the important truth that senators from both sides of the aisle cared deeply about the rights of people with disabilities. so thank you, chairman menendez, for your comments, your leadership around this first hearing and be willing to come back at this important treaty, and thank you, ranking member corker, for joining with him in a bipartisan way to do exactly what both of you have talked
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about and trying to do here, trying to make certain -- and that is with an eye of trying to make certain that we air all of the concerns so that every senator can make up their own judgment in an atmosphere that is not clouded with procedural questions, as we unfortunately were last year. i think we all approach this renewed discussion -- we in administration listen very carefully to all of you -- and while we recognize most senators would guess, some senators were dissatisfied with the process and some are not prepared to support the treaty until they feel that certain concerns are addressed. so again, i repeat, i am absolutely committed -- i have said this to the chairman in private conversations -- we will work with you on an appropriate reservation or understanding or declaration, as appropriate, in
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order to try to clarify something, if indeed, it really is begging for clarification and we are not able to show adequately through legal cases through precedent, through reality of the treaty itself that it has already addressed. i still believe what i believe when i tried to do this when i was chair, that the ratification of the disabilities treaty will advance core american values. it will expand opportunities for our citizens and our businesses, and it will strengthen american leadership. and i'm still convinced that we give up nothing, but we get everything in return. i say that again -- we give up nothing, but we get everything in return. our ratification does not require a single change to american law.
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and it is not going to add a penny to our budget. but it will provide the leverage, the hook that we need in order to push other countries to pass laws or improve their laws or raise their standards for the protection of people with disabilities, up to the standard that we have already adopted in the united states of america, up to the standard that prompted president george h.w. bush and republican leader dole to pass the americans with disabilities act and indeed to negotiate the treaty. now, i am especially engaged now, obviously, as secretary of state, because having traveled to a great number of countries these last nine months since you confirmed me, i have seen firsthand the need for this treaty in ways that i never had before. it is not an abstract concept. this is not just a nice thing to
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do. it is not something that is sort of for the few. it really raises standards for the many, and there are countries where children with disabilities are warehoused from birth, denied even a birth certificate, not a real person. and treated as second-class citizens every single day of their life. the united states has the ability to impact that the passage of this treaty. 138 countries have already signed up to this. in too many countries, what we did here at home with the americans with disabilities act has not even been remotely realized overseas, and in too many places, what we take for granted here has not been granted at all. now, i will never forget my visit recently to a sports rehabilitation center for the disabled veterans in bogota, a center we support with funds from usaid, and i met police
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officers who were injured by bullets, soldiers wounded by ied's, volunteers caught in the tragic shootouts that take place over their efforts to help us together to enforce global international narcotics objectives. these brave men and women have risked life and limb and they have lost friends in battle, and yet there is a whole world that they are unable to access today because of their disabilities which they received as they undertook duties shared by our hopes and aspirations with respect to the enforcement of law. moments like this really clarify for me the work that we have to do to export our gold
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standard. the americans with disabilities act is the global gold standard. we should be extraordinary proud of it. we are. but i would hate to see us squander our credibility in this issue around the world because we are unwilling to embrace what we actually began, this initiative. when i tell other countries that they ought to do what we have done, as i am often reminded that we have not done we have said we are going to do, we have not joined the treaty ourselves. it is pretty hard to leverage people when you are on the outside. so those 138 parties to the treaty, when they convene, we miss out on the opportunity to use our expertise, to leverage what we have done in america and put it on the table. we lose out on that. we are not at the table. we cannot share our experience and use our experience to broaden theirs. and other countries come to discuss education, accessibility, and employment standards for people with disabilities, areas where the
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united states has developed the greatest expertise we have been excluded because we are not a party to the treaty. and the bottom line is that when we are not there, other countries with a different and unfortunately often a lower standard, a lower threshold, wind up filling the void, and that is the best people get. i do not want to see us continue to take ourselves out of the game. no member of the senate should want us to voluntarily take ourselves out of this. and remaining on the sidelines jeopardizes our role in shaping the future of disability rights in other countries. and we need to help push the door open for other countries to benefit, not just from our example, but from our guidance and expertise, our experience. joining the treaty is the most powerful step we can take to gain all of those upsides. and do not take my word for it. in a letter to this committee last month, former secretary of
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state colin powell said it best. he wrote, "if the senate does not approve this treaty, the united states will continue to be excluded from the most important global platform for the implementation of best practices in disability rights abroad." this is about something very real. look at the numbers of people who are here today and the numbers of groups represented behind me here today. every one of them represents thousands more people for whom this is very real. it is about things that you could see and you could touch and then make a difference to people's lives. i'm talking about sidewalks without curb cuts. try managing that. public buildings with no accessible bathrooms. restaurants, stores, hotels, and universities without ramps or elevator access. buses without lifts. train platforms without tactile strips that keep you from going over onto the tracks.
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we cannot afford to ignore these barriers as problems that somehow affect other countries and do not affect us. they are present all over the world, including some of the top destinations for americans traveling abroad for work or for study or for pleasure. and we are not using all of our power and influence to change things for the better if we do not join this treaty. i have asked you to think about what this treaty means. it means something for everybody with disabilities. i particularly want to ask you to think about what it means to our veterans with disabilities. last year i met a fellow named dan. he is a west point graduate, retired u.s. army captain, and afghanistan war veteran. like many of us, dan never thought he would have a disability or be an advocate for
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people with disabilities. but his life changed instantly when he stepped on the trigger of an ied and he lost both of his legs. dan speaks in absolutely clear searing, stark terms about the difficulty, the fear, the embarrassment of negotiating obstacles abroad as a person with a disability. and he experienced this obstacles first hand when he traveled to south africa, and he told me last year, he told all this, because he shared his us money with this committee, "the advantages that we take for granted here at home that allow people like me to live fulfilling, independent lives do not exist in much of the rest of the world." let me tell you the good news. dan is now a student at stanford business school. and he wants to be able to take advantage of every possible opportunity. he can do that in the united states because of the ada and other disability rights laws. but dan will tell you, not me, he will tell you, as he said
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last year, as he experienced on a trip abroad, his opportunities in the increasingly important international workplace are hindered by his disability and it is a disability he acquired by fighting overseas on our behalf. he is asking us not to fight for him and a lot of folks like him on their behalf. there are an estimated 5.5 million disabled veterans like dan and many of the veterans and their beneficiaries in the post- 9/11 g.i. bill have a disability, and many of them are unable to study abroad because of poor accessibility standards in schools overseas. i have met with recovering veterans at home in massachusetts. i have met with them at walter reed. they want very simply a world where they can be independent, go out and fend for themselves where they can travel abroad to work or study or vacation, and
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they should never have to worry about whether the disabilities sustained fighting on our behalf are going to prevent them from accessing the classroom, a workplace, a hotel, or transportation overseas. like all people with disabilities, they deserve a world where they can fully participate in the global economy on equal terms without fear of discrimination or loss of dignity. joining the disabilities treaty will also expand opportunities for american students with disabilities, who need to be able study abroad to prepare themselves to compete in the global economy. i want you to take the example of a person who is one of the outstanding interns at the state department. she is here today. she is a graduate student with dreams of a career in foreign affairs. she happens to also be deaf. two years ago she traveled to ghana.
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it was the opportunity of a lifetime. but the obstacles she faced from the absence of written directions on how to proceed through customs at the airport to the absence of fire alarms with flashing lights in public buildings, made the demands of everyday life much more difficult for her to sustain. and she managed to travel despite the obstacles in her way that would stop others from traveling at all. she is exceptional. it should not be the exception. it ought to be the rule, and america has more students with disabilities in higher education than ever before partly by virtue of what we have accomplished with the ada. so students with disabilities participate in study abroad programs, unfortunately, less than half that is often as those without disabilities. and our joining this treaty will help change those numbers. i would just ask you very quickly, and then i will wrap up, consider a few concrete
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examples. we're talking about joining a treaty that will strengthen our hand as we push for fire alarms with flashing lights so people who are deaf or hard of hearing will know when there is an emergency or when they need to evacuate, we are talking about joining a treaty that gives us leverage to push for other countries to have sidewalks with those curb cuts those people who use wheelchairs can safely cross the street or the tactile strips at the train platforms so people who are up why do not fall into danger. our joining the treaty means that we will lead the way for other countries to raise their standards and it means we will lead the way for other countries to adopt our standards. for all of these things -- accessible bathrooms, tactile strips, fire alarms' flashing lights -- all the advancements that have made an enormous difference in the lives of americans with disabilities. i will admit to you changes not going to just happened with the passage of the treaty. it will not happen overnight.
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when we passed the ada sidewalks with these curb cuts and bathrooms that were accessible did not appear the next day, nor did all the businesses that make accessible products that serve people with disabilities. but the disabilities treaty, just like the ada, is a process. and our joining the treaty followed by very important ingredient -- we pass this treaty, i will send a message to every embassy in the world, and we will begin to engage a protocol that will have our people reaching out to every country and every government and we will use our presence in this treaty to leverage these changes in these other countries, to encourage these changes, to use of voice that you will give us by actually joining it, a voice that we are not able to exercise today for our absence as a member. if we join, we can ensure that
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vets like dan and a lot of others like him have the same opportunities abroad as other americans. that is why the american legion, our nation's largest wartime veteran services organization, which i am proud to be a lifetime member of, vfw, likewise, many other veterans groups, support the ratification of this. if we join, i ask you to think about this. why is the american chamber of commerce supporting this? why is coca-cola, which i think, is in something like 198, 200 countries? it will level the playing field for our businesses who already meet accessibility standards. as other countries rise to meet our standards and need our expertise, guess what -- they are going to look to american companies that already produce these goods, and we will be able to help them fill the needs and this needs jobs here at home.
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that is why ibm and the consumer electronics association and many other businesses support ratification. so i think this is a single most important step that we could take today to expand opportunities abroad for more than 50 million americans with disabilities. this treaty is not about changing america. this treaty is about america changing the world. and i hope that each of you will put yourselves in the situation if you were disabled today. one of our colleagues, mark kirk, as we know, who supports this treaty, has unfortunately found himself fighting back against things that happened unexpectedly. and so, while our circumstances might change, our rights and our opportunities should never change. and with the passage of this treaty, we have an opportunity to guarantee that for all americans, and we also have an
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opportunity to change lives for the better for a lot of people in the world. that is what america is all about them, and i hope we will ratify this treaty. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, mr. secretary, for a very substantive, very vivid example of why the treaty is so important in the lives of americans with disabilities and the lives of their families who accompany them and the lives of our veterans. let me start a round of questions and get to the issues that i have heard. i am sure you have heard them from your past effort in this regard, and we have heard it in the first round of hearings in individual conversations. some argue that the united states should not enter into treaties that do not involve matters of national security. what would you say to those who espouse the view that treaties like this are unnecessary? >> mr. chairman, i have just given you a fairly strong
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description of why it is necessary. we join treaties because they are in our national interest. we do it -- if you think about the treaties that the senate has passed on occasion that positively impact the lives of people, we have passed treaties that promote religious freedom. we have passed treaties that allow for inter-country adoption. we have passed treaties for the international recovery of child support. we have passed treaties that enforce intellectual property rights. i mean, we do this because it is in the interest of the united states. and as i have said, in this particular case, it is in the profound interest of everybody with disabilities, and i find it very hard to see why we could ask people to go abroad, fight sustain an injury, fight for our values, and not reinforce those values by allowing them to travel abroad, work abroad
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study abroad with the same rights they have here in america. that is what is at stake. that is what makes this in our interest. >> another argument i have heard is that ratification would subordinate united states in the u.n. and allow our laws and actions to be guided by the united nations, the disabilities treaty committee for courts and judges. i personally disagree with that view, and i agreed to explore it in our first hearing. i would like to get your take with that. would ratification violate levels of american sovereignty? >> no, mr. chairman. on the contrary. there is no impact whatsoever to the sovereignty of the united states. in fact, you are exercising our sovereignty right now by doing the framers of the constitution envisioned, which is gratifying to treaty. if the treaty, if it has no consequences on the united states, it does not record or us going in. there's no subjugation to any entity outside, the cause of
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action created here, though access to american courts, there's no enforceability, there's no self-execution in here. so there is no cause of action as a consequence that allows people to go to court. in fact, joining this treaty does not require a change to u.s. law, and there's no reach whatsoever by any committee or any entity outside that one committee is allowed to suggest things, but they have no power to enforce, no power to compel no power to do anything except put an idea on the table. nothing can change unless the united states senate were to reratify whatever suggestion the united states senate might engage in subsequently. there is no change. >> finally, i appreciate the comments you made here today in
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public as well as the ones you have expressed to me and i believe other colleagues in private about our openness and willingness to consider reservations, understandings and declarations that would assuage concerns that members have in terms of ratification of the treaty. and i just want to create a framework for that. i think, myself as the chair and working with you and others, are very open to that process. however, we can also have requests of rud's that go beyond an appropriate balance. and so, while we want to work very deeply with those who want to get to a yes on the treaty and find a way to do so, it is my hope that the requests that
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we get for reservations, understandings, and declarations are fair and balanced so that we can take care of the concerns that exist and at the same time not undermine the very essence of our standing with the treaty. is that a fair statement of how we seek to balance this? >> that is exactly our point of view. i mean, last year when we did this process, and i was happy to entertain a number of reservations, understandings etc. i thought we could do a pretty good job, but we could do more. we are willing to work with you. we do not need to fill this thing up with a stack of restatements of things that absolutely do not need to be restated.
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we have to exercise a little bit of restraint and judgment as to what is really a case in controversy here and what is not. i am absolutely prepared, and i said this originally to you, to both you and the ranking member, you know, we want senators to feel comfortable. so we are prepared to address legitimate concerns and will work with you to do it. >> senator corker. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i think you know, mr. secretary, i typically do not read from notes, but i'm going to do that today just to ask the questions in a specific way. i want to say to the people here who are advocating on behalf of the treaty, there is not anybody up here that disagrees whatsoever with the thought of advancing this cause. that is why so many letters have come in in support of this. i mean, i do not think that is in question.
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when people look at these kinds of issues, sometimes they forget that there is a whole body of law out there that affects people domestically in ways that were never intended. and so my goal here, and i think a number of people on the committee's goal and others, is to make sure that the best of what this treaty is about is preserved, but at the same time you end up in a situation where inadvertently you have not done things that affect us domestically in ways that we never intended for that to occur. let me just ask you a series of questions. in the bond supreme court case the department of justice argued that ratification of the treaty can expand existing federal power to legislate beyond its traditional limits and that the framers intended for the senate to enforce federalism limits on treaties through its advice and consent power. do you agree with the argument
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that your administration has put forth? >> i do not believe that bond applies here. it is not a question whether i agree or disagree with the argument they have put forward. the question is, does bond have any impact on the passage of the disabilities treaty and the fact that is a case of controversy at the moment at the supreme court? the answer is bond involves a challenge to an implementing statute that was passed after the senate gave its advice and consent to a treaty, in other words, after the chemical weapons treaty was passed. then the implementing language was passed. in this case, the implementing language has not only been passed, it is then found constitutional by the supreme court and has been put in practice for years. we're talking about the ada. it is the implementing language.
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so in contrast here, no new legislation is required, and even former senator demint recognize that and accepted that. the constitutionality of our domestic legislation was passed entirely independently of the disabilities treaty has repeatedly sustained by the courts. so we do not have the potential of a bond crisis here. i think it is being inappropriately applied to this treaty. >> ok, so can you confirm than that no further legislation -- i think you just did -- i want this for the record, if i could could you confirm that no further legislation is necessary to meet our obligations under the crpd and there will not be a need in the future for any further legislation to satisfy the convention's requirements? >> i can confirm that no legislation is required to implement this. nothing -- >> not to satisfy this
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commission? >> nothing is required to be passed to satisfy this treaty. >> very good, so that united states is not accepting any obligations under the treaty to regulate beyond the federalism limits reflected in the ada and other federal laws? >> that is accurate. >> there would be no need for additional authority beyond the limits of federal government for the government implement crpd? >> that is correct. >> since the crpd comes with no federal obligations and requires no additional authority, you would support strong federalism rud's to limit both of those possibilities -- that is a yes or no? >> i would support an appropriate rud, yes, with respect to federalism. >> that firmly and declaratively addresses these issues, one that addresses these issues? >> that clarifies the federalism
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reservation and how it would work. i think that is appropriate. >> i would like to obviously -- we have attempted to work with your staff -- >> that restates the fact that the treaty would only obligate us to take action that we can take under federal law. that is the reservation, and you know -- to have a rud is appropriate to be stating that. >> it is important this is a very clear statement, and we look forward to working with you. >> absolutely. >> a range of concerns have been raised that we adopt today could be invalidated or interpreted by a future congress, court, or the u.n. disabilities committee. any senator would want to make sure we can be confident that our rud's will withstand the test of time and take the view that their advice and consent was taken on -- >> i agree. >> will you support a non-
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severability rud that ties our treaty obligations to the continuing validity of the rud's? very important area, very important answer. >> can you say that again? >> do you support a non- severability right that ties our trading obligation to the continual validity of the rud's? >> i do not know if i can -- i would just have to be able to make sure that we have the power to do that and it can be done, but there's no way that rud's can be dropped. they become part of the treaty. they are embraced in the treaty. you would have to pull of the treaty or the treaty would have to be changed altogether for the rud not to be enforceable. can we look at the language so that i am not committing to something that i would just -- >> i want you to have the language. >> we will work with you on the
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language. >> if for some reason your staff decides that this is not something that can be done and there is not a serious concern will the department of justice provide in writing confirmation of its legal review that the senate rud's cannot be invalidated or rendered ineffective for international legal purposes? >> here's what i commit to you. my staff is not going to decide on its own. i am going to decide. i will take a look at it and see where we are, and you and i will talk and we will see what our options on. secondly, i will certainly engage with the justice department in order to find out what is possible. i think we ought to be able to find a way to in the language to properly reflect what you're trying to do. >> i think you know that -- >> we want to act in good faith to answer the questions, so the rud's you enter into, you feel that you're not entering into a
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quicksand deal. >> i agree. if i could in ask one question. the treaty allows for the withdrawal of rud's, and state parties are encouraged by monitoring their rud's and others to withdraw their rud's and other to come into full compliance with the treaty. but a future congress could withdraw a rud either from the normal legislative process or unilateral executive action, thereby circumventing -- and remember, a treaty is ratified by 2/3 -- thereby circumventing the constitutional protection provided by a 2/3 majority requirement of the senate advice and consent. you understand what i'm asking? guest: i am told this has never happened. we would not do it without a fair amount of process engaged in it. no foreign country can invalidate a u.s. rud. i will tell you that. and no disability committee
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can't invalidate a u.s. rud. you would presume it would have to take -- i think it would take an entirely new resolution. i would have to find out for you, senator. >> more specifically, could the federalism rud be withdrawn in this manner, eliminating the limits that the senate has put in place to that uses expanded federal authority under the treaty to intrude on the powers of the states? >> i do not believe so, no because that would be counter of the federalism. >> so you would support a rud to protect our rud's on withdrawal without a new resolution of advice and consent from the senate? >> on the surface that would appear to be a good thing to do. i would want to check with my counsel and run it through, but why not?
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>> i thank you, and i thank the chairman for his patience. i would say to the community of people who are advocating for the passage of this treaty, all the things that i just asked about today have nothing to do with helping other countries around the world deal with these issues that are so important they are about insuring that this treaty does not have the unattended consequences that sometimes can happen in our country. i ask those who are advocates here to help push the administration and others to resolve these issues with us if in fact you believe this treaty is something important to pass. i thank you for the time. >> thank you, senator corker. now, i've extended the time for the ranking member because he plays a very important role. i am going to have to be -- because there is going to be action on the floor, obviate our
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timeframe here and ask members stick to their time. with that, senator cardin. >> thank you, mr. chairman secretary kerry, and thank you for your extraordinary leadership and thank you for what you have done as secretary of state. you have been an incredible voice for america, and we thank you for that. i want to acknowledge the presence of dr. seth morgan. he is a commissioner of the maryland commission on people with disabilities. dr. morgan is a retired neurologist with 28 years of experience in the field of neurology, psychiatry, and diagnostic radiology. he is an advocate, working as a volunteer for the national ms society. he is a person who lives with ms. i would like to quote some of the statements that dr. morgan made, which is "as a person with disabilities with family living abroad, i would be able to visit my siblings, nephews, and extended family without the uncertainty that has plagued
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prior visits." underscoring what you said, mr. secretary, about how important this treaty is for americans who are traveling abroad. mr. chairman, i would ask consent that the statement by secretary hagel in support of the legislation, on behalf of the military families come in the 5.5 million american veterans who have disabilities be a part of the record. >> without objection, so ordered. >> i often write you letters. i have written you letters raising concerns of religious freedom, concerns about corruption in other countries, concern about how police activities occur in other countries. occasionally we will write you about issues concerning people who have challenges and disabilities. can you just tell me -- you are secretary of state, you are in those meetings -- the fact that we have not ratified this
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treaty, does that affect your credibility in advocating on behalf of a set of core values that we believe in, the right of all people, including of all people with disabilities, when you raise these issues of concern that we have another countries? >> senator, i am not going to tell you in every conversation i've had somebody has raised the disabilities treaty because they have not. but the generic breadth of our rights absolutely comes up. and often you wind up with people pushing back on one thing or another about our absence from the table, not having signed up to a particular treaty. i will tell you this is happened frequently for instance on the law of the sea, although that is not the issue in front of us. we often have to say up front -- i never go anywhere -- any
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meeting i have anywhere, we discuss the question of rights human rights, the question of what is happening in a country its transformation, its reforms. we always run into some kind of debate about the differences cultural differences here, but on this kind of thing, i have raised this issue on occasion in certain places, and people indicate a readiness and willingness to try and do things, but they are not particularly well versed in it. they do not know what the options are. they are not sure how much it costs or how long it takes or what the competition is. that is the virtue of our being able to put the ada on the table, and also be a member of the submitted to the 138 member countries and start to engage them on it, and the answer is -- if you come in and you are not a member and you are not part of it, of course you lose leverage. >> there's no question that the ratification strengthens the
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u.s. position internationally in advocating on the half of basic rights for people with disabilities. it is interesting, when you look at basic human rights and the advancement of basic human rights, when the united states is missing in those debates, it is much more challenging to get the type of progress that we need. >> absolutely, without any question. and, you know, when you run to the list and look at the countries that are signed up to it, you see incredible opportunities here. i mean, you know, saudi arabia south korea, yemen, zambia tanzania, the united kingdom actually, jordan -- you run around any of these countries -- israel actually is a signatory and israel did a reservation with respect one thing, to abide by their laws, but they are comfortable.
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so i think our legitimacy as a full advocate that we have the power to be because we are the ones who initiated this, that we are the ones that initiated it we're the ones that went to countries and said, come onboard, and now we are not there, the result is that community frankly is not as energized and as engaged as it should be. there's a lot that could be done by joining up. >> i will make an observation that the united states has been a leader in advancing the rights of people with disabilities. in 1991, in the moscow document over the osce, it was the u.s. congressman hoyer was much involved taking the work that we did in the ada here and bring it to that organization, and it is cited as a government view to advance rights for people with disabilities in international meetings and make sure that proper accommodations have been made.
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ratification of this treaty, as you point out, countries that are so, so far behind us in accommodating people with disabilities have already signed and ratified this treaty. it gives us a seat at the table to advance their laws that protect people with disabilities. it is a golden opportunity for us, and it is interesting that these countries have already ratified it and approved it and we are still in the process of doing it. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. >> thank you. i will be brief. we have been let known there might be a measure taken on the floor at 10:30. thank you for being here. as the grandson -- my grandfather was severely disabled by polio. he struggled all life to provide for his family. i'm sympathetic to the goals here. i'm getting e-mails about people who have concerns by what they
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are reading and hearing about this. i have two questions. the first is involving a statement made in 2007 when the assembly approved the final text. u.s. issued an official statement to clarify our understanding of the phrase reproductive health in article 25 -- does not include abortion, and its use in that article does not create any abortion rights and cannot constitute the support of abortion. with the administration support the inclusion of an understanding that affirms this policy? >> as you know, last year we had a debate about this here in the committee, and i thought we came up with a pretty good rud that dealt with this question by making sure that it did not include any language regarding any medical procedure. i think we used any medical procedure, that it did not refer to that whatsoever, because
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there were some back and forth on the issue. always follow the issue about pro choice, pro life. and i thought we had thread that needle fairly effectively. if there is a conviction by the committee that it has not, then we should work through the language, but i want to make it clear, nothing in article 25 or anywhere else in this treaty creates a right to abortion. that is a domestic legal issue and nothing in this treaty changes that. and that was in the transmittal letter to the congress which made it very clear that that was true, and i thought the line which we had last year helped verify, but we are happy to work with you to make sure it is clarify. >> thank you, and a lot of e- mails about homeschooling. the written testimony by mr. gray talks about an idea -- and i want your opinion -- the inclusion of an understanding that said that nothing in the treaty minutes, the ability of parents to homeschool their children. >> let me make it clear.
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we all respect a right of parents to make decisions for their children, including the decision to homeschool and, second, nobody is seeking to weaken or believes there is anything in here that weakens or eliminates those rights, and, third, u.s. ratification of this treaty will have absolutely no impact on parental rights homeschooling, or any aspect of u.s. law. we added that during the markup last year, a rud, including an understanding to assuage the concerns of homeschoolers. i continue to support and understanding, if that will help address insurance. we will happy to work with you to make sure that the language is adequate to do that. >> i want to give you the opportunity to address this. this is my last question. yesterday it appears khamenei referred to israel as a rabid
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dog. an american official called that language -- would you comment on that statement. >> we do is agree -- we disagree with it profoundly. you're asking the obvious. it is inflammatory and unnecessary, and i think at this moment when we are trying to negotiate and to figure out what can and cannot be achieved, the last thing we need are names back and forth. i do not want to exacerbate it now, sitting here, but our good friends in israel know full well that we defend their concerns, they are deeply -- they are deeply, existentially threatened by what is happening in the world, we stand by our defense of israel completely, and we do not believe that anything is
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served with names that challenge everybody's sense of propriety and justice and rectitude. we have been through this before. you have heard prior very disturbing assertions regarding the holocaust and so forth. we need to move away from that. our hope is the process of the next months and years will unable us to do that. >> thank you, chairman menendez, for convening our second hearing to consider the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. think you, secretary kerry, for your ongoing leadership. protecting the rights of disabled persons has historically garnered the support of all americans. ratification would solidify the strong u.s. commitment to equal opportunity for disabled
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persons, protection for disabled americans abroad, wounded veterans. last year we missed a great opportunity. it's my hope that we don't make the same mistake again. mr. secretary, this entire hearing strikes me as revisiting important fundamental issues that need to be asked and answered to reassure those of my constituents who have not heard yes yet. in your view, what is the response to critics who charge the sea rpd that would violate u.s. sovereignty, and the disabilities committee would be empowered under this treaty to dictate how the iron states treat people with disabilities here at home. >> with respect to sovereignty there is absolutely no ability whatsoever for any country or any entity through this treaty to gain any legal redress or to
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compel the u.s. to do anything. there is no oversight, there is a committee that works on issues. the most they can do is make a suggestion. there are 18 members elected on a global basis. they issue a report, but they cannot repel us to do -- compel us to do a thing. there is zero give up or loss of any sovereignty of the united states. we are deciding whether or not we want the rest of the world to be importunate by us over the next years as a member of this party to rise to our standards rather than come to a lower standard. the u.s. gains entirely from this. on the disabilities committee,
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the disabilities committee has zero power to change the law, to order the change of law, compel a change of law. there is no power in this treaty and also in the committee. the committee has no ability to create and a customary international law, no decision memo, anything they utter can have an impact on u.s. and what we reserve to ourselves through our constitution, and even through our declarations and understandings and reservations in this treaty. >> as i believe and as you have asserted, the treaty does not compel us to do anything except to continue to follow our own law in our own way. why then ratify it? what harm is being done to our ability to advocate for disability rights by being the empty seat at the table, or observer status of the committee for the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities?
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how does this harm our advocacy for how we should treat citizens with disabilities around the world? >> there are a whole series of things that this treaty does require other countries to do. we have already done them. that is why it does not have an impact on us. we are meeting those standards. it does compel other countries to provide accessibility, to provide nondiscrimination in things they do, such as a birth certificate for kids. you cannot deny somebody a birth certificate because they are disabled. it creates a set of rights about standards for education, transportation, all the things that mattered to us under the ada. it takes each of those components and gives a legal
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obligation to other countries to live up to that standard, our standard. >> thank you, mr. secretary. i think this convention is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate the high standards the u.s. has made is the gold standard for treatment of our citizens with disabilities. >> senator kaine. >> before i have a comment and question for secretary kerry, i want to do an introduction. gail pollock is here with us today. she was the first woman nonphysician commander of the u.s. army medical command, enacting sermon -- surgeon general of the army with an $8 billion annual budget in 2007. she has extensive experience in the military, but she was challenged by senator anyway -- inouye when he made comments about care for blinded troopers. following her experience in a program at harvard, she
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established a sole source information solution provider for anybody concerned about vision loss. we're very happy she's here today and for all the work she has done around the world. thank you, general pollock, and secretary kerry. there's a lot going on in the world today, and that you have chosen to be here with us is a tribute to you, to how important you view this priority. i was reminded of the great senator william crotts meyer who believed so deeply in the united states's need to ratify the genocide treaty that every day in session he took to the floor of the senate then advocated that the u.n. genocide treaty which had been ratified by the u.n. and activated in 1951, it was not ratified by the u.s. until 1986 -- he gave over 3200 floor speeches over 19 years
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until the u.s. ratified the genocide treaty. i hope you're not here that often. i hope we do a quicker than 48 years. this treaty that came before the u.n. was ratified in 2006. i have one question for you. the last time you were before us, we were debating a very difficult issue, syria and whether to authorize use of military force in syria. the committee voted to do that authorization. shortly thereafter, in your discussion, diplomatic discussion with syria and others, syria agreed to do something it had not done, it agreed to become a signatory to the u.n. chemical weapons convention. what moral leverage would the u.s. have had to insist that syria become a member if the u.s. had not been a signatory to the convention?
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>> thank you for your reflections on senator proxmire. i remember listening to many of those comments. your question answers itself. we never could have achieved it. there would've been no standing to try to argue it. >> can we talk about something in addition to the obvious benefits that will flow to people with disabilities? that is that which will flow to american businesses if we have an international standard. there's about 56 million people in the u.s. with disabilities, but there are about a billion
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people in the world with disabilities. if we just take something like a u.s. law, standard that says all these devices have to be accessible to the deaf and blind, and you multiply that by the thousands of companies in the u.s. but now have a part of this communications revolution what could it mean for american business if the standards are adopted? what could it mean in terms of practical benefits for the u.s. economy if we join the rest of the world in ratifying a treater treaty that they are ready to go on? >> you at the nail on the head. i mentioned in my opening comment about benefit to business and why the american electronics association and ibm are supportive of this. a billion people is a big market. the market that drove the wealth
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creation of the 1990's where every quintile of american income saw their incomes go up and the greatest wealth in the history armor nation was created. that market was a one billion person market. it actually grew quickly into a $1 trillion market. this market is just waiting us for tap into -- for us to tap into. we have assisted devices that help people to speak, that can print. there are extraordinary gains through technology. different kinds of wheelchair accessibility's, lifts, all kinds of benefits in communications and transportation. there are huge benefits for companies.
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it means jobs, not a small number of jobs. tens of thousands maybe hundreds of thousands of jobs in the united states, directly related to a standard being established through the rest of the world, and i agree with you. it does not require any change in u.s. law. it is really going to be a benefit for the disabled around the world and for businesses here in the united states to be able to service that new market that has been created, and we can be a leader in distributing those technologies as well while profiting in the united states the eye thank you again. >> thank you, senator. >> rate, great work. >> so, mr. secretary, i know there are a series of members
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that would have liked to engage with you, and i know that there are procedures that are about to take place on the floor that will take about one hour of time, so i understand, i understood him -- i assume your schedule would not allow you that period of time. >> i regret, mr. secretary, it does not. >> i thought so, given what is happening in the world and your present schedule, so we will keep the record open ostensibly so that questions can be submitted, and may be working with you if there are any specific members in another setting that have some specific questions, maybe in the future we can work with you. >> chairman, why do i not agree with this? i want to have this pass and work with you and have it expedited through the department, so recognizing this difficulty on the floor, why do
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we not try to arrange a meeting at the state department for those senators that did have some of those questions. we would be happy to meet. and, obviously, we are prepared to answer questions for the record in short order. >> for those that want to have something on the record and those that want to have a conversation about their concerns and about how the department and administration would respond, i think that is a fair offer. i appreciate your testimony today. i think it has been substantive and very compelling, and i just want to share two final concerns. one is that i know we can try to create an environment in which we went to be as airtight as possible, and i get that, for those who have concerns. however, i think that looking at future congresses five years, 10 years, 20 years from now, on anything that the united states
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congress does and passes could be changed. of course, it would seem to me that a united states congress would have to change it, so there would be full debate and the opportunity to do so. i do not envision that, and as has been stated, that has never happened as relates to this, so i would think this would be the first time in history that that would take place, but i think there has to be a balance year as to what expectations are of what one can guarantee about future congresses. so that is just an observation for the record. the second, as you and the department work with the members, i would urge you to also share as the chair, because at the end of the day, i have to be willing to support the agreement before the committee when we get to that point, and i am sure that is the way we will work together. >> can i just say this, sir? i want to thank you for your
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leadership as well. there is a lot going on here also. the priority, and i appreciate your making and one, and i also want to thank the senator who was an early supporter some time ago and who has stuck with it, with the bipartisan effort with senator mccain and others. >> we have a series of colleagues that have joined us and you mentioned senator mccain, and there is also senator ayotte and others as well as members on the democratic side, so our goal is to get the type of strong, bipartisan support that will pass the treaty. there are a few times i think in our lives in public service that you can affect the lives of millions of your fellow americans in a powerful way that can make a quality of opportunity and access to that opportunity a reality and there
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are 50 and million americans that face some sort of disability. they served their country veterans and they deserve that, and this is an opportunity to do that, and that is why this is so important, and this is a global challenge. thank you very much for the appreciation of the committee. the secretary is excused. i am going to apologize to our next panel in terms of time wait, and i hope you are ok. it may be short, but it is likely to take about an hour. to the audience members, as well. we will reconvene up on that final vote that takes place on the senate floor, what i believe it will be sometime within an hour, and until that time, the committee stand in recess. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] [captioning performed by national captioning institute]
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>> and turning to the recent agreement with iran on its nuclear program, an article in the politico talks about democrats still pressing for new sanctions, saying they are not backing down or calls of new penalties on iran despite this to curtail the iranian nuclear weapons program. today, they handled the agreement, including legislation to consider a six-month window for the u.s. and iran to finalize a larger deal. that is according to the chair of the foreign relations committee, robert menendez, and they also look to have something that would penalize iran immediately if diplomacy fails. they also argued that the deal is a test of iran's willingness to follow through on its promises and that the agreement is a bigger plus for the united
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states than it is for iran. senator levin praised their negotiating ability but also made it clear he would not support a new sanctions bill if the agreement falters. you can share your comments on the deal with us. just go to, or you can use the hash ysh vj -- hash tag "chat." here are some comments. you can find more on send us a tweet using the hash tag. more now on the disability treaty with lawyers and medical
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experts. this portion is one hour, 20 minutes. >> the senate foreign relations committee will come to order. first, let me say to our distinguished panel that we regret that issues on the floor have created challenges to us conducting the hearing. as a matter of fact, we are not finished on the floor, but in order to listen to your incredibly important testimony i asked the ranking member, with his concurrence, to proceed during these votes and hopefully rotate as members take the chair when it is necessary in order to get their testimony in the record and hopefully have an opportunity for q&a at the end. i know that one person has to leave, and we want to definitely get his testimony, and i appreciate your willingness to do so, so after the start, we
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will excuse you, and, of course, the record will be open to answer any questions. our second panel today we have a representative from ibm responsible for advanced research technologies, part of the ibm efforts to enable everyone to achieve their full potential through innovation and we have a former white house counsel to george h w bush, and a member of the european institute and various other organizations, serving as a special envoy to european affairs, and i understand his daughter is a staff writer for time magazine and who was married saturday, so congratulations to the proud father of the bride. and we have a professor of law at george mason university. he also advises the american enterprise institute and we welcome you and curtis bradley is a professor of public policy studies, a senior associate for
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faculty research at duke university. profession or -- bradley has written many articles on international law, constitutional law, and u.s. foreign relations. welcome to you all. with that, let me ask mr. gray to go first. all of your statements will be fully entered into the record, as soon as we are synthesized in about five minutes, so hopefully we can go forward and answer questions. mr. gray. >> thank you very much for the opportunity to appear. also, thank you for your commendation for my schedule -- your accommodation for my schedule. i wish i could stay here for the entire conversation. it is very important and also very interesting. i hope i can answer questions in the record if it is appropriate.
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i was involved with the architecture and construction of the americans with disabilities act from the very beginning starting with the work that then vice president bush did with the task force of regulatory relief under president reagan, who was very supportive always of disability rights, and the ada grew out of work that was done during the reagan administration. the statute has been very durable. it has been a great success. it has really changed for the better the lives of a great many americans, and as i enter as a baby boom cohort, as many people have said, there is really no
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difference between the rights of the disabled and the rights of the aging, and this has been a great success in the united states. we are at a situation where, basically, -- normally, you have a treaty and then a statute. here, quite the reverse, but close to it, where we had the statute 25 years ago and a treaty that has come out of that. there is nothing binding on this country, and that is probably the most important point i can make. senator kerry dealt with that brought under the implementing legislation, not under the treaty itself, and, of course, as senator kerry observed, there is no way to keep a future
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congress from amending it. it has already been amended once, but that is for the future, and that is not the issue here. there are bears a discussion for federalism purposes two things that were raised earlier by senator kerry. there need to be stronger -- something suggested in testimony that will be given in a few minutes. i see no difficulty with making these strengthened reservations, but i also do not think they are absolutely essential. as professor bradley acknowledges and what is clearly understood, the convention is that congress has already adopted the declaration that has the convention being nonself
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executing, which he acknowledges will have the effect of preventing the convention from being judicially enforceable on its own terms. therefore, it cannot be used to justify legislation that would not be ordinarily justified under our constitution, and it cannot be justified, it cannot be used to justify this with our system of federalism beyond what would ordinarily be possible under the constitution in the absence of this treaty, so i do not think it is absolutely essential, but i also think that since it has already been done, this very strong reservation of non-execution, i noted no difficulty in adopting the stronger statements.
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i think on homeschooling, which has been an issue in the past, they participated thankfully. i want to express my own support . i think it is probably well known for this. homeschool has blossomed under the regime of the ada and other disabled education legislation. i do not seen really any way in the world the treaty, which is not enforceable, to do anything to hurt the growing movement for homeschooling here in america so i will be quiet. >> i appreciate your testimony and your forbearance with us in this process. let me just ask you because you will have to be excused, and maybe a senator will have a
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question. i want to focus on one part of your testimony and that is if you were still the white house counsel as you were under president bush, there are some that have suggested that we would have to wait for the supreme court to decide in the decision before the senate would make a decision on this treaty. do you think there is any reason they should delay senate consideration on this issue? >> i do not. on the merits, i was not at the argument but i am told he was comfortable, perhaps more than anybody else. there were the reason senator kerry stated. there is a clear congressionally approved rudd
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which makes this nonself executing and nonrenewable, so i see no reason why the bond case and the relevant -- to point out that it was the prosecution under an implementing statute. there will be no statute here. what is relevant for purposes of the court is the ada itself and not this treaty. >> listen. i understand you have to leave so i am going to go ahead and ask you some questions, and thank you. first of all, i respect you very much, and i appreciate you being here today, so i will ask you some specific questions relative to your last statement. congress can always pass implementing legislation two years from now, four years from now, so the fact that it is not necessarily even that that could happen but the fact that when you ratify a treaty, that itself
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can, in fact, extend, creates and issues domestically, so let me just ask you a couple of questions. as an advocate for the ratification of the treaty, do you agree there are significant questions about whether a treaty can expand congress's power and to affect the states, under the current supreme court case law? you agree with that, right? >> i think that is probably true probably right. the case will clarify that, that we do not have that issue presented here because of what i already mentioned, which is what you have already adopted, which means he can -- and you -- convention is not regionally enforceable. the only thing congress can do constitutionally in the absence of a treaty, and you have already once amended the ada
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and you may choose to do it whenever to amend it again, but you will be bound and constrained by limits of the constitution and not enabled by anyway i the treaty, because that cannot be judicially enforced. >> there was no issue as you just stated. what i made was a statement of fact. i am talking about treaties in general. you would have no opposition to us try to clarify those very specifically for what has no impact on us being able to advocate in other countries but would keep this treaty from affecting us here domestically. you do not have an opposition? >> i do not, and i think i so testified i have no objection to clarify those severability issues. >> thank you, and i hope you can help us do that through your advocacy. do you agree it is important for the senate to adopt a strong assortment to protect the
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appropriate amounts of power between state and federal governments? >> yes. >> you had made some statements on the record in the past, and since the record of these hearings can have a bearing on future issues that arise, i just wanted to -- again, i respect your advocacy and your service to our country, and i thank you very much for coming. >> thank you. >> thank you, and i know you're going to have to leave, so i appreciate your willingness to answer questions from the record as we move ahead. >> well, i will really do that, and i appreciate your understanding about my having to leave, and i am understanding -- i am sorry to my fellow panelists, with whom i would like to have the discussion. i just cannot stay, so thank you very much. >> thank you. mr. west. >> good afternoon, chairman
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hernandez, ranking member corker. my name is francis west. i am the worldwide director at a center. in this role, i am responsible for advancing the ibm leadership driving inclusive people-focused technology solutions. i currently serve on the board of directors for the institute on disability and the u.s. business leadership. i am honored to provide the ibm point of view, and we would like to ratify this. global understanding and demand continues to grow. given this is powered by an entirely new set of trends including the growing and aging population social networking, and emerging technologies such as smart televisions these innovations are creating unprecedented demand for inclusive technologies that enhance user experiences and
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create more fulfilling interaction for any individual at any time and anywhere. as a result, as disability has become a mainstream requirement for the society, ratification of this will help advance the marketplace for accessible information and indication technology, benefiting the u.s. economy, businesses, and individual citizens. we believe by unifying the ratifying countries we can accelerate two critical business imperatives that are foundational to job and market creation. first, the adoption of common technology centers and two the execution of meaningful policies and technology research agenda as. it plays a critical role in assuring the interoperability of technology and the acceleration of innovation on a common foundation.
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with the international standards, and employee with a disability and any of the 96 countries ibm operates and they will have difficulty using airport kiosks, accessing atm's, using teleconferencing abilities, or obtaining multimedia digital content through their computer or cell phone anytime, anyplace, so standards is absolutely vital to the u.s. and u.s.-based companies, and we can see three reasons how this can help. first, vc rpd -- the crpd affects this, along with the disability sanders. it is familiar to implement. second, the standards protect our investment in accessible technology and helps us achieve economies of scale, assuring positive return on investment. finally, it helps continuing to
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lead innovation worldwide as the countries are investing in the disability technology leadership , and our ability to influence them is diminishing. now, on to the policy benefits. it is no exaggeration to say that in many cases policies make markets. one u.s. section was a rehabilitation act and is a great example. prior to the enactment of the federal procurement policy, the excessively marketplace was small, disoriented, and not an investment priority. however, section 508 and the buying power of the u.s. government has transformed that and played a major role in defining it as a mainstream government and business requirement. the u.s. ratification of this will have a similar effect. in addition, by prioritizing both equal education and technology access for people with disabilities, this will
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create a larger talent pool of knowledge workers with disabilities, enabling companies like ibm to hire the best talent and meeting the requirements associated with emerging requirements, such as section 503. ibm believes the u.s. can solidify leadership in the burgeoning marketplace through this participation. we believe that failure to act will produce quite the opposite effect in the long term affecting the ambition and dreams of people disabilities, limiting market opportunity, and jeopardizing the u.s. ability to affect things worldwide. in conclusion, ibm believes the ratification will create a global marketplace for accessible i.t. and reinforce the u.s. legacy leadership position as a champion for full inclusion of people with
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disabilities. i thank you for your attention. >> thank you. professor? >> thank you for letting me, mr. chairman. i want to make three basic points, and they respond to what secretary kerry was saying, that this treaty will not require us to do a thing. he repeated that over and over again. it will not require us to do anything, but it will give us a lot of leverage on other countries. my first thing is that we should stop and pause on this. how can that be that although they do not get any leverage on us, we get a lot of leverage on them and at the top, that seems implausible. and if ratifying a treaty like this gives us a lot of leverage on other countries, then are having ratified the acts that we
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have ratified would give us the leverage to make sure there is free speech in countries like north korea and cuba, which are parties to the covenant. it would allow us to make sure there is freedom of religion in china, egypt, and pakistan countries which are a part of that convention. we should remind ourselves that if we can make a promise saying that we are promising it does not mean anything because you cannot force us, they also can make the same promise in the same spirit. yes, we signed onto this, but you cannot force us to do anything, so i think this is a little bit optimistic to think that just because people have signed the convention that they are going to implement it. the only way that there can be american leverage is if we lean on these countries and twist their arms. come on, we really expect you to do it. a lot of countries in the world have serious problems and
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hundreds of millions of people do not have access to clean water, and they get all kinds of intestinal parasites, and their children get sick, and we are saying forget about that, what you need are attacked while strips. that is the most urgent priorities, and that is the most important priority because americans want to feel comfortable when they visit your country. around the world, there are countries that have real problems with illiteracy and malnutrition, and we are saying that is not important. your main priority should be buying equipment from ibm and other companies that have been dealing with the problems of a small subset of your population, and a lot of the conversation today was not about their population. it was about our population. i think it will be difficult to say to do this so that americans when visiting your country will be more, double. that is the first thing. i think the leverage on other countries is exaggerated.
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the other thing is senator kerry said no problem for america, we are not obligated in any way. there are a lot of things in this convention which are not parallel to the ada. let me just take off a few. the ada has some exceptions for private clubs and religious organizations and private residences. this convention does not acknowledge any of those conventions. the ada is more restrictive than the convention. now, it is true that we can say to the implementing committee we are not listening, we are america, we don't care, but i think inherently when you sign a treaty, you're making a promise in good faith to implement it, which means we are promising to do more than we already do with the ada. there are questions that can arise down the road. his alcoholism and disability? you can go through a whole series of things that we have
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disputes about. do we want to have the right to decide that entirely for ourselves, or do we want to commit as this treaty would do, that, yes, we will take advice from the implementing committee there. equal renumeration for work of equal value. april 27. that is a big change. we do not have anything like that in the ada. are we going to implement that? the convention has provisions about making sure that laws protecting international -- intellectual property rights do not constitute an unreasonable barrier to access by persons with disabilities, and that to me seems it says you shouldn't force international property rights if he gets in the way of helping people disabilities get access to ibm products, why should ibm insist -- the convention is saying you should not do that. the last thing i want to say is we have previously not ratified
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human rights conventions of this kind. the human rights conventions we have ratified up till now have been very basic, american-style constitutional rights, like freedom of religion or freedom of speech or opposing torture. this is a big step beyond that. this is much like the covenant on economic and social rights, and we had a succession of presidents that said, no, we are not going there. that is not what we understand by human rights. this is everything and everything could be brought to us in the name of human rights and we could commit to it, we could share with other countries what decisions we make about how to regulate our economy, how to take care of poor people, old people, all kinds of people in the country. it is a very, very big step and we should think about that before we say yes, sure, we want to help the disabled. i think almost everybody in
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america wants to help people with disabilities, but the question is, do we want to do in partnership with 128 countries? i think we should say we reserve our right to do it for ourselves, and we respect their right to do it for themselves. >> chairman, ranking member, thank you. i want to emphasize at the beginning that i consider myself a strong supporter of the desirability of protecting the rights of the disabled. i am quite proud of the laws that the congress has enacted, including the americans with disabilities act and, in fact, i come here not as an opponent of the convention but someone who strongly believes that when the united states ratifies treaties it should be very attentive to how the treaties relate to u.s. constitutional standards and traditions, something i know that the senate is always concerned about. it is a particular issue when it
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comes to human rights treaties which by their nations focus much more internally and roses issues for the u.s. legal system. a particular concern in my view is that the broad and vague terms, some of which you have heard about today, in the disabilities convention could be used in a manner that would undermine the federal nature of the u.s. constitutional system. to give you a couple examples, the convention refers to standards governing the care of children. traditionally regulated in the united states under state rather than federal law. in addition, the convention addresses private as well as governmental conduct, without any of the limitations that would normally apply to the federal regulation of private conduct, such as the requiring of a connection to interstate commerce. although congress has broad authority in the absence of this treaty to protect the rights of the disabled and has used it,
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there are limits in our system to how far congress can go with respect to regulation of matters normally addressed by state and local governments. because of the supreme court decision the 1920 decision missouri versus holland, congress is allowed to expand its normal legislative authority when it is passing legislation to implement a treaty. a concerns and has been raised therefore that congress at any future time could use this if ratified as a basis for new legislation that would intrude in new ways on state and local authority beyond what congress would normally enact. the united states commitment to federalism i think depends on maintaining a national government of limited and enumerated powers, and i believe, therefore, that this issue should be addressed. i think it is possible to adequately look at this. i have looked at the reservations opposed -- proposed
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by the ministration, but i do not think they are clearly adequate. when you read them closely, you find that they merely state that the government is not required to intrude on state and local authority but they in no way prevent the government from doing that. those who have expressed concerns about the potential reach of the convention understandably want more assurance than that. it is not just a rare disagreement. it is not enough to point to the nonself executing declaration which is certainly an important one. all that does is prevent the convention right now from being litigated. it has no affect at all on the scope of congressional authority starting the day after the treaty is ratified. it is simply a different issue. the proper way to address the issue instead is with a properly crafted federalism reservation which disavows expanding the government's authority beyond what it would do which is quite extensive already, in the
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absence of the convention. as i discussed in my written testimony, this would not be the first time the senate would adopt such a reservation. i found at least three or four examples in which the senate has quite properly attached a similar reservation, starting first with a 1951 ratification of the charter of the organization of american states and i give some other examples in my testimony. these made clear, unlike what the a ministration has proposed to quote one of them in my testimony, nothing in this can hurt any power in the congress to take actions previously beyond congress. that is from a prior reservation, a different treaty, and something like that i think is quite clearly needed here. i was quite encouraged by secretary kerry's testimony. the administration should not be oppositional to this idea and indeed, if i am reading his testimony correctly, he seems quite receptive to adding
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reservations along the lines i am suggesting here. of course, the ministration maintains that existing law is satisfactory to meet the obligations of the united states in the treaty, so it should not only be for just new laws but the laws that expand congress's authority beyond what it currently has and secretary kerry was addressing that. i have addressed some other items in my testimony about some non-severability language. thank you for your attention. >> thank you all for your testimony. there is a vote ending on the floor, and i'm going to ask one senator to proceed with her questions and take over this, and senator corker and i are going to go vote and come back, and we want to explore it with you. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you to all of the panelists who are here testifying today. i apologize for having missed
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your testimony and very much appreciate your being here. before i get to my questions i want to recognize all of the veterans who are in the audience today. thank you for your service, for attending this hearing and i hope at a time when more veterans such as you are returning home with injuries and disabilities that we can stand up and support your rights and protections, not only here in america but around the globe. i want to quote the words of another veteran from this treaty hearing in the last congress when i was here. john lancaster. the former director of the national council on independent living, and what he said at the last hearing that i think is very powerful is that we aspire to what is in this convention.
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this is what we are about as a nation, including people, giving them freedom, giving them rights, giving them the opportunity to work homage to learn, to participate. isn't that what we are about? is this not what we want the rest of the world to be about? if we are not willing to say this is a good thing and to say it formally, what are we about really? for me, that sentiment captures what i think this treaty should be for, not just the united states but for the rest of the world. so i wonder, if i can ask each of the panelists, starting with you, ms. west, if you could explain how you think u.s. ratification of the convention would help to advance the goal of making sure that people throughout the world have the same kinds of protections that
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people with disabilities have here in the united states? >> because we are a technology company, and also a for-profit company, we look at the world from the perspective that whatever we bring to the market is better for our people, our customers, and also for the business. in the area of disability, because we want to be human centric, when we talk about that that means that everybody can better provide disability. it is not just a small group of people. aging populations, people who cannot speak certain languages they can all benefit from this, so we look at this as doing something not only good for the business and not just good for a small segment of the population but for the entire population around the globe, and i do want
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to make a comment about some of the emerging countries. yes, they do face a lot of the issues like clean water and everything, but i think you would be surprised that the governments understand, and in many cases they often have more people if disability in their population, so they actually appreciate having technology and technologies from countries like the united states that help them to deal with this, so we really see this as beneficial both for the citizens of the world and also for business. >> thank you. king elaborate a little bit on the impact on u.s. businesses if we choose not to ratify this treaty and have a seat at the table? what will happen on issues around standards and development, as you mentioned. is it accurate to say that we would be forced to play a more reactive role then be proactive?
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>> forming committees in the various areas, and in the technology area, we have already witnessed a different kind of thinking and right now we still enjoy our leadership, and we still enjoy technology standard leadership, so we are still able to apply some of our influence, but over time, as you know, especially in the area of technology it involves very quickly, and by not being there i think we will very quickly lose our ability to impact, and once the standard is not harmonized waste on the united states standards, for example, all of the businesses will suffer because that means we would have to create different sets of products different sets of services, and that will
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adversely impact our way to -- our ability to expand commerce. >> thank you very much. do any of the other panel members want to expand on that? >> yes. i know john lancaster. we are colleagues together on the board of directors at the united states institute of peace, and i do not mean that all to put words in his mouth, but i think one thing on which we would both agree is there are limits to what the united states can't expect to do in terms of influencing other countries, and one of the ways in which we can hope to secure a more peaceful world is if we understand you do not have to be exactly what we would like you to be. i am a little bit uneasy about having this openly said. we need to have international standards which will force other countries to buy american products. first of all, i am very
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skeptical that is going to work but second of all, if it does work, i do not think it is going to make us more popular. i think there will be a lot of resentment about that. we are basically saying to entries, don't spend money on what you think is important, spend your money on american exports, because there is an international treaty that does not require us to do anything but requires you to do something, and i think we should all be a little more uneasy about that than we seem to be. >> g, that was not my interpretation of what ms. west was saying. would you like to respond to that? >> yes. standards actually come about from best practices, so in many cases, especially american standards, because we are a free society, and people come to share their best practices, and that becomes the international standards, other countries actually look to these kinds of standards because they know it
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is a culmination of best practices, so it is not a force issue. it is not an action you impose on people. especially in the technology area. it is a welcomed standard, because that means they do not have to spend time to go through the trial and error that other companies or other industry has gone through so i would say that this is not an adversary kind of situation. it is usually welcomed very much by the global community. >> thank you. >> mr. bradley, did you want to comment? >> thank you. my view is probably in between these positions to some extent. my guess is that the united states will continue to be a leader in the future even if it does not join the convention. it has some of the best laws on this in the planet, and i imagine that congress will continue to make laws that assures that is the case and
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that will allow the united states to do what it has done already, which is to serve as a good model, regardless of being party to the treaty. regardless, i agree with senator kerry that the united states is likely to gain some additional leverage on the committee and more general if it is a party to the convention, so i think that is potentially an advantage of joining, so my testimony is simply that we should only do that if we are satisfied we are doing it in a way consistent with u.s. law and particularly constitutional standards. thank you. >> one of the issues that was raised at the previous hearing on this treaty had to do with concerns that had been raised by some groups about homeschooling their children, and last year, the justice department testified before this committee that the
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convention including the phrase best interests of the child would be applied consistently current u.s. law and would not require a change to existing law. i wonder if, as i have looked at the treaty, i do not see that there is a threat here to parents who want to homeschool their children, and i just wondered if that was a concern mr. bradley, that you have heard about the treaty and what the thinking is about whether that is an issue with the current wording. >> yes, thank you. i believe i do understand that concern. one of the issues that arises whenever you have a treaty like this is negotiated among a large group of countries. by definition, therefore, the language can be very vague and broad and its implications unclear. communities in the united states
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like the homeschooling community i think quite understandably want some assurance about what the implications of this treaty will be, and you're absolutely right that the assurance they have gotten is the assurance that the convention will not require a change to existing practice and law. what i am urging is that this committee and the senate can give more assurance and make clear that it will not allow a change from what our constitution permits in terms of the regulation of issues in the family and in terms of homeschooling. i think in my view, if the community has that, it should be sufficient to address the concerns as i understand them. >> so are you suggesting express language that would address that, is that which you are suggesting? >> in my view, it would be enough if the committee were to endorse the federalism reservations that i suggested which make clear that the convention cannot be used by the government to expand its authority in any additionally
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state domain, and that would include the homeschooling issue but would not be limited to it. and i think that should address those concerns by taking off the table the possibility that i think they are worried about which is next year, after the convention would be put into force, there would be some intrusion that would not normally be allowed but would now normally be allowed under the convention. so i think the general reservations i am suggesting should address the concerns as i understand it, and you would not need an additional 14 homeschooling, although there is one that has been proposed that says it does not affect homeschooling which could also be quite welcome. >> thank you.
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ms. west, you talked about countries not ratifying the convention. i wonder if what you have heard from business leaders around the world is further concerns about u.s. leadership on the issue of disabilities and the extent to which you think that might continue to be eroded if we are not able to pass the treaty in this session of congress or the senate? >> well, we see the convention as a means for us to really have a very efficient way of understanding market requirements, whether it is a developed country or a developing country and by not signing the crpd, we would in
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some cases be excluded from some of the discussions that would lead to a conclusion. this is about being able to understand the customer's requirements, whether by country or by industry, and i think it is very important that we be able to be at the table and to glean from these conversations about different industry, whether it is transportation or banking or the retail industry specifics, and that will allow the united states companies especially companies that have global interests to be able to continue their leadership in the world market. and also, we think that currently, at least in the technology area, we enjoy tremendous leadership in a harmonizing international standards, and these standards are very very important,
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because they really allow the continued leadership of the u.s. companies in the global settings. >> thank you. >> i have just got notice that they have called another vote in the senate, and so i think we should take a short recess. hopefully senator menendez and senator corker will be back because they will be able to vote now, but i am going to have to vote, so let's recess for 15 minutes, and hopefully by then they will return. thank you. very fast. thank you. >> thank you senator, and i am sure you have got more time than you normally can get. i am sure you made good use of it. our thanks for you chairing in the interim, and thank you to the panel. i hope the testimony was all
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interesting. let me explore a couple of things. dr., i listened to your testimony, and i understand you are in opposition, which i respect, but i think you minimize in your testimony the notion of what the treaty can do. in your testimony you seem to disparage the idea of asking other countries to make facilities assessable to disabled people in order to make life more comfortable for american tourists, who would likely be few in numbers, and that is an exact quote of your testimony. don't you think as america, for a moment, that it is important for our country and for our government to try to create the opportunity for americans to be able to visit a dying relative
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abroad, to be able to do a sales pitch in another country, or have a member of our armed forces abroad who has a family member with a disability, be able to have these americans fulfill their god-given potential without the challenges of the impediments that individuals with disabilities find globally and increasingly less in the united states but occasionally still in the united states, even with the ada law? >> i am not asking for your sympathy. i am asking you about should it not be the power and the advocacy on behalf of of its citizens what they enjoy in access to opportunity >> i do
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not think we can make everything we like into a global norm, and i am skeptical if this is the right priority for us, and if i could, senator, i will give you another example. i'm number of people have difficulties with foreign language, and i include myself. we would find it a lot easier if everyone spoke english, or if -- >> that is not a disability. >> it is a limitation. the point is, we cannot get every country to make them do exactly what we would like them to do. >> and we cannot get every country to be a democracy. we are seeking to promote democracy globally. we do not ultimately wish that certain countries would move in a way that creates a security
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challenge to the united states when we send our daughters of broad when we think the national security of the united states is at stake, so if i was to take your argument to a logical conclusion, then i would advocate the u.s. role in so many different dimensions in a way in which we would not pursue our national interest, or that is your point of view, and i respect it. let me turn to professor bradley. i look forward to hopefully engaging you, on the package and in your testimony, and you raise concerns about the reach of implementing, but you raise concerns and we were addressing
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these federalism advisory committee concerns, and i think last year, my description of it is the approach to address these concerns, but now we are in the territory of the suspenders and a team of engineers to supervise the whole operation and i want to ask you this. assuming we could adopt a set that could satisfy your concerns, which may be the concerns of others, as well, and i am optimistic that we can, do you think we need to have the
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bond case be completed? >> my view is that they are not suspenders. we have already indicated that the once say congress is not required to. it does not take it off the table. on the committee, the human rights committee is already said to have that authority and that is not in the treaty either. and that was not addressed in the proposal last year in the committee, so there are two example. >> in such a way to enforce something to mess to clean? >> internationally, at least and then the question would be what would the united states do if it was found not to have those available internationally but your more general question -- >> i am optimistic that we can and listening to the secretary of state this morning i think
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he sounded optimistic that we could, and he seems quite willing to work along the lines of what you are just asking about. if that were done, it is my view that that would be sufficient in a way that i talked about. let me get to the core of my question. i hear what your concerns are, and i get it. assuming that we did, that we would work with you and got to language that through you would satisfy some of our colleagues on these critical issues, do you really think we need to wait for a decision on bond in order to accomplish the goal? >> i do not. it is possible the bond case would cut back on some of the treaty power concerns that have been raised. they are not going to add additional concerns. so as long as what we are talking about addresses those concerns fully, whatever happened in bond does not change
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this. >> let me just make one comment on one of your observations, with reference to the human rights committee, which attempted to expand the scope of its authority. the united states successfully pushed back. and we made it clear before, the committee does not have the authority under any entity including the u.s. congress -- i know there is a concern about binding future congresses. a future congress can go ahead and amend the american disabilities act. it has once. we costly see there is a great desire to change the president's health care law. that is just one of 100 examples i could give. there's a lot of things that congress c


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