NBC: Republicans Make Disabled People Cry on 'One of the Saddest Days' in U.S. Senate

Employing sanctimonious rhetoric to paint Senate Republicans as cruel and heartless for opposing a U.N. treaty on disabled rights completely redundant to the Americans With Disabilities Act, on Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams lectured: "If you want to know how broken, how partisan our Congress and our government has become, all you need to look at is this one day in Washington....Senator John Kerry called this one of the saddest days he's seen in close to three decades in the U.S. Senate." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

In the report that followed, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell pointed to the GOP as the source of the sorrow: "For those looking for cooperation tonight, only disappointment, even real sadness over what happened with this treaty intended to help the disabled....Five Republican votes short of the 66 needed....it's unusual to see tears shed in the Senate chamber, I witnessed that today....I saw a woman in a wheelchair, leaving with tears rolling down her face."

Williams solemnly lamented Republicans resisting lobbying by former Senator Bob Dole: "Dole, one of the lions of the Senate in the modern era, appeared in the chamber, a visual powerful reminder of a time when lawmakers got along and compromised and made laws. But there was no such outcome today....that momentous vote in the Senate that died, a victim of politics. And failed despite a personal plea from a very senior statesman."

O'Donnell blamed conservatives for failure to pass the treaty: "Conservative and Tea Party opponents say countries like China, with a poor human rights record, would get a pass....And for some no votes, politics, the risk of a GOP primary challenge got in the way."

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza exclaimed: "To vote for anything that is even perceived to be granting the U.N. power, is a dangerous game for a Republican senator. Because the U.N. is so unpopular among the Republican base, they could be asking for a challenge from their ideological right come 2014."

O'Donnell added: "And that was the complaint we heard most often from conservatives. A worry about the U.N. getting more power. Proponents of the treaty said that just isn't the case."

NBC had failed to cover the treaty at all prior to it being voted down, and in the report itself, the most explanation given to viewers as to what was actually in it was O'Donnell vaguely stating: "Advocates say the United Nations treaty, approved by 126 countries, would promote equal rights and better treatment for the disabled, inspired by U.S. law, the Americans With Disabilities Act."


Here is a full transcript of the December 4 report:

7:00PM ET TEASE:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: High drama on the Hill as a frail Bob Dole returns to the chamber he once controlled to add the full weight of his name to a highly-charged vote.

7:01PM ET TEASE:

WILLIAMS: If you want to know how broken, how partisan our Congress and our government has become, all you need to look at is this one day in Washington, where tonight we're no closer to compromise on a deal to avoid that so-called fiscal cliff. And where today in the Senate chamber, when a big vote was on the line, there was a big emotional moment. Bob Dole, one of the lions of the Senate in the modern era, appeared in the chamber, a visual powerful reminder of a time when lawmakers got along and compromised and made laws. But there was no such outcome today. Senator John Kerry called this one of the saddest days he's seen in close to three decades in the U.S. Senate.

7:04PM ET SEGMENT:

WILLIAMS: The fiscal cliff was not the only aspect of disagreement on display today in Washington. As we said, there was that momentous vote in the Senate that died, a victim of politics. And failed despite a personal plea from a very senior statesman. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell covers the Hill for us. She's there tonight on Capitol Hill. Kelly, good evening.

KELLY O'DONNELL: Good evening, Brian. For those looking for cooperation tonight, only disappointment, even real sadness over what happened with this treaty intended to help the disabled. The appeal brought together three former presidential candidates, and the unusual site of a former senate majority leader back on the floor he once ran in the moments leading up to the vote. Once a giant of the Senate, visible in the corner of the C-SPAN camera, today, though, frail and rarely seen in public, Bob Dole, the war hero, presidential candidate, champion of disabled rights, tried to change the contentious spirit of this Senate for disabled people around the world.

JOHN KERRY [SEN. R-MA]: That's why an 89-year-old veteran, one week removed from Bethesda Naval Hospital, comes back to the Senate on an early December day, because it matters.

O'DONNELL: Matters to people like disabled veteran Dan Berschinski, who lost both legs in Afghanistan.

DAN BERSCHINSKI: Only by voting in favor of the disabilities treaty are we truly honoring the sacrifice of those disabled while answering America's call.

O'DONNELL: Advocates say the United Nations treaty, approved by 126 countries, would promote equal rights and better treatment for the disabled, inspired by U.S. law, the Americans With Disabilities Act.

JOHN MCCAIN [SEN. R-AZ]: Mr. President, I come to the floor with a bit of a heavy heart today.

O'DONNELL: Like Dole, John Kerry and John McCain are combat veterans who once aspired to the White House. Today they fell short again. Dole's own party failed him. Five Republican votes short of the 66 needed. Conservative and Tea Party opponents say countries like China, with a poor human rights record, would get a pass.

JON KYL [SEN. R-AZ]: What it does do is allow their leaders to falsely present themselves as forward-leaning on disabled rights.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Mr. Chambliss, no.

O'DONNELL: And for some no votes, politics, the risk of a GOP primary challenge got in the way.

CHRIS CILLIZZA: To vote for anything that is even perceived to be granting the U.N. power, is a dangerous game for a Republican senator. Because the U.N. is so unpopular among the Republican base, they could be asking for a challenge from their ideological right come 2014.

O'DONNELL: And that was the complaint we heard most often from conservatives. A worry about the U.N. getting more power. Proponents of the treaty said that just isn't the case. Now Brian, it's unusual to see tears shed in the Senate chamber, I witnessed that today. And after the vote, many disabled people did attend, I saw a woman in a wheelchair, leaving with tears rolling down her face. Brian.

WILLIAMS: Kelly O'Donnell with today on Capitol Hill. Kelly, thanks for that.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC