Has Washington changed? The Senate has

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks with reporters following a GOP strategy luncheon at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. From left to right are Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

(CBS News) Someone asked me the other day has Washington changed, and I said, "Were you around when they passed the American Disabilities Act in 1990?"

It passed overwhelmingly, ending discrimination in the workplace and opening access to the disabled to public buildings.

When President George H.W. Bush signed it into law, it made you proud, whether you were a Democrat, a Republican, a politician, or one of the rest of us.

But that was then and this is now.

Partisanship and suspicion run so deep now that when an international treaty that calls on other countries to provide the same rights to their disabled came to the Senate for ratification, conservative Republicans blocked it.

Blocked it despite a dramatic appeal by 89-year-old former Republican leader Bob Dole, himself a disabled World War II veteran, and even though their usual allies - the Chamber of Commerce and veterans groups - wanted it.

Opponents gave various reasons, arguing the treaty might prevent parents from home schooling - it doesn't.

I didn't hear many say, though, how proud blocking it made them feel. Some just seemed embarrassed.

Has Washington changed? Maybe I'm wrong, but in Bob Dole's day, I think Senators would have found a way to get it done.

  • Bob Schieffer On Twitter»

    Bob Schieffer is CBS News' chief Washington correspondent and anchor of Face the Nation.



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