Dole had been urging members of his party to ratify the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which would grant people with disabilities equal rights in other countries.

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Those supporting the treaty say it’s important for U.S. citizens and veterans with disabilities, who travel, study, do business or reside abroad. Dole himself is a veteran with a disability.

Sen. John KerryJohn KerryIran’s nuclear deal just the tip of the iceberg for Trump Trump needs to stand firm on immigration, 'religious-test' insticts Budowsky: Ellison, Kerry to DNC? MORE (D-Mass.) pointed out that Dole, who appeared on the floor in a wheelchair, was present despite having been sick in Walter Reed Hospital just last week.

“Certainly he is not here because he doesn’t want to defend the sovereignty of America,” Kerry said of an argument made by those opposing the treaty. “He’s here because he wants other countries to respect the rights of those with disabilities.”

The treaty would ensure that countries ratifying it would work toward equality for persons with disabilities in accessibility, health, education and employment, among others.

Those opposing the treaty argue that it would then potentially change U.S. law on issues, such as aboriton and home schooling.

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who has a disability, also appeared in the Senate chamber to watch the vote. Special Assistant to President Obama, Samantha PowerSamantha PowerTrump hires put premium on TV prowess US abstains from UN resolution on Cuba embargo for first time Former Portuguese leader, refugee chief primed to be new UN head MORE and other White House officials observed the vote from gallery, but declined to comment after the vote failed.

This article was updated at 12:40 p.m.