Equal Rights Amendment supporters on Thursday slammed the vast majority of U.S. Senate Republicans for filibustering a resolution that would make the 100-year-old measure the 28th Amendment to the Constitution.
The 51-47 vote to invoke cloture was short of the 60 needed for final consideration of the resolution. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) were the only Republicans to join all Democrats present in supporting a vote on the ERA. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) remains absent from the chamber, recovering from shingles.
“Today is a disappointing day for women,” declared League of Women Voters of the United States CEO Virginia Kase Solomón. “Our nation’s elected leaders have failed yet again to see us as equal members of this democracy.”
“It is shameful that despite the significant advances made in recent history, Americans continue to face discrimination on the basis of sex and lack equal rights in the Constitution,” she said. “Inequality hurts everyone, and we must not continue to be a nation that harmfully excludes and marginalizes women.”
“We believe in the power of women to create a more perfect democracy, and that includes equal rights under the law, first and foremost,” Kase Solomón added. “A strong democracy doesn’t discriminate against women but empowers women. We will keep fighting, and we will keep showing up to hold our legislators accountable. Equality is essential to our democracy.”
Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and CEO of MomsRising, agreed the vote was “a real disappointment,” adding that “at this time when moms and women—and especially moms and women of color—face devastating wage discrimination, when our country has failed to adopt the programs and policies that would help parents and all caregivers achieve economic security, and when our bodily autonomy and access to reproductive healthcare is being gutted, all lawmakers from both political parties should support enshrining equal rights for women into our constitution.”
“Still, we are encouraged by the fact that this vote took place today; it is evidence that this essential constitutional amendment remains on lawmakers’ agenda,” she said. “We will build from here. Moms want Congress to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, so states can ratify it at last.”
First introduced in 1923, the ERA states:
Section 1: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2: The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3: This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
While the amendment passed both chambers of Congress in 1972, it must also be ratified by three-quarters of all state legislatures, or 38 states—a quota that wasn’t hit until a 2020 vote in Virginia, decades after the 1982 ratification deadline.
The resolution blocked in the Senate on Thursday—led by Murkowski and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.)—would have eliminated that deadline so the ERA could take effect.
Some amendment supporters in the U.S. House of Representatives marched through the Capitol to the Senate Chamber on Thursday chanting “ERA now!”
About a dozen House members just walked across the Capitol building shouting "ERA! Now!" and have stopped outside the Senate chamber. pic.twitter.com/j0ri3HH7ke
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) April 27, 2023
Among them was Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)—co-chair of the Congressional ERA Caucus with Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.)—who said after the vote that “once again, Senate Republicans have failed to do the bare minimum to protect our rights and equality.”
Signaling that ERA supporters in the upper chamber aren’t ready to give up, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) switched his vote to “no” so that he can bring up the resolution again.
The White House said ahead of the vote that the Biden administration supports the resolution, adding that “in the United States of America, no one’s rights should be denied on account of their sex. It is long past time to definitively enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution. Gender equality is not only a moral issue: The full participation of women and girls across all aspects of our society is essential to our economic prosperity, our security, and the health of our democracy.”