Mitchell Reports | December 05, 2012
>> with the fallout from a senate vote that seemed to underscore everything that is wrong with capitol hill . the senate's rejection of an international treaty to guarantee equal rights for people with disabilities based on what has been american law since the first bush presidency 22 years ago. the treaty supported by every democrat and eight republicans, came five votes short of passage of the required 66 needed for ratification. 38 republicans voted no despite the return to the floor of former majority leader bob dole only days out of the hospital. there at the age of 89 to rally support from his former friends including orrin hatch , cluck grassley, mitch mcconnell and thad cochran but they voted it down. the floor manager john kerry called it one of the saddest days in his nearly 28 days in the senate which he says is broken and dysfunctional. the chairman of the foreign relations committee john kerry joins me now. thank you very much. you spoke of this passionately yesterday and you've had an overnight to think about this, but the moment was clearly so compelling watching bob dole on the floor, wheeled in by his wife, the former senator elizabeth dole and you and john mccain and other war veterans calling for passage of this, it tell me your thoughts today?
>> my first thought, andrea, hate to say this i can't believe you're already talking about 2016 . i'm sorry to change --
>> i'm sorry about that too.
>> that threw me at the outset here.
>> my apologies.
>> that said, let me say to you, yesterday was exactly as i described it, just a very, very sad day for the senate. because fear triumphed and politics triumphed, not the legitimate concerns of americans with disabilities who want to travel abroad. i mean, the bottom line is not one american law is affected by this treaty . no one gets any new rights. no one would have access to an american court. there is nothing to fear in this treaty , but there are people who use the treaty to drum up the fear of primaries and politics and opposition and in the end, that combined with the letter that was written some weeks ago saying we won't do this in a lame duck, notwithstanding that we've passed 19 treaties in the past 30 years in lame ducks, here's the bottom line . this is about the service of americans, soldiers who want to travel abroad. we heard from captain now, dan burshinski, a west point graduate from -- fearful he would have to be carried into a hotel. didn't know if he could go to a restaurant. would they have a bath recommend for him that was handicapped accessible and so forth. these are simple things . this is the basis of what this treaty would have done, raised the standard in the rest of the world and made other countries much more accessible and lived up to a higher standard of treatment with people with disabilities .
>> senator, do you think that this might have passed if the words united nations were not attached to it? talk to me about this fear of the u.n. angered the u.n., some appropriate, some not, the black helicopter deal?
>> there's a lot of fear that the u.n. is somehow going to encroach on united states sovereignty and prerogatives. one of the things i thought was most sad about yesterday, was here's a veteran of world war ii , grievously wounded in the war, who spent a lifetime proving to americans that injuries didn't need to stop you from living a completely fulfilled and productive life, who had to fight like crazy to come back from those wounds, and he's on the floor, this man who defended american sovereignty, and yet people were there suggesting somehow he was there less than to defend america's sovereignty with this vote. to me that was such an amazing slap in the face and a contradiction. i think it's important not to go backwards. one of the lessons you learn here in the united states senate you live to vote another day. this treaty is not dead forever. it just stopped yesterday. we're going to bring this treaty back. we're going to bring it back next winter when we get back here. we'll do another set of hearings. we'll expose the phoniness of these arguments that have been made. and once we're out of the lame duck atmosphere with the fiscal crisis, i know there are republicans who have told me they will vote for this treaty . i think we just have to change the dynamics. i am perfectly prepared to put additional language into the resolution ratification that addresses any concern that was expressed yesterday on the floor. i'm convinced we can get there. and that's one of the things you need to do in the senate, is always believe in the next vote, the next possibilities, and not spend a lot of time opening raw wounds.
>> i do want to ask you about syria because hillary clinton today in brussels expressed her concerns about the security of the chemical weapons and whether this regime is at a tipping point or close to a tipping point. the secretary general of the u.n. said today that he does not think that countries ought to offer exile to assad . where are we heading here? is the regime, first of all we understand that the u.s. is going to recognize the occupation -- opposition next week. is the regime close to teetering and do we have to worry about the chemical weapons ?
>> yes. the answer is secretary clinton is right on. we do have to worry about them. i had a briefing this morning regarding this. obviously i can't release any classified details, but sufficient to say that the threat is real. the warning is real. we have made it crystal clear , president obama , secretary clinton, be have made it absolutely clear as have other countries this is a red line and i believe president assad has received that message from several quarters. the question now is, you know, will someone else grab on to them? there's certainly risks where we are with respect to syria . i would not close the door completely to some kind of an agreement whereby president assad could move to another country and the reason i say that is, that the dangers of an imploding syria , of the complete implosion of the state, are really serious and contrary to the national security interests of the united states . it's in our security interests to be able to get a transition that is controlled and that is negotiated and that is orderly. the alternative to that is you could have 200,000, 500,000 people killed and so i do not want to lock myself into nor do i think our nation should lock ourselves into, a complete refusal to create the dynamic where we can avoid that kind of death and destruction and where we will not serve our greater national security interests. and therefore, i want to see us push rapidly towards the negotiation. i think it can happen. i also believe that assad 's regime is in its final months. i don't know if it will be three or six. i can't it tell you the number. i know there has been an enormous amount of progress made by the syrian opposition and the free syrian army and i think we are looking at sort of the beginning of the end plays here.
>> senator kerry, thank you very much. by the way, before i let you go, anything you want to share with us about your future or any other jobs that might be out there?
>> i have a bunch of meetings this afternoon and i look forward to a terrific day. thank you.
>> thank you. thanks for being with us. thanks for your leadership on the treaty for people with disabilities . and we