WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) announced Thursday that the first bipartisan legislation they will introduce for the 117th Congress is their joint resolution to remove the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment — S.J.Res.1. Ratification of the ERA would expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in the U.S. Constitution. In the House of Representatives, the resolution is being introduced by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-N.Y.).
Almost exactly one year ago, in January 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, which was first proposed in 1972. Congress has the authority under Article V of the Constitution to set and change deadlines for the ratification of constitutional amendments, and has done so on numerous occasions. In 1992, the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting immediate congressional pay raises, was successfully ratified after 203 years. That amendment was initially proposed as part of the original Bill of Rights in 1789.
“There should be no time limit on equality. Even as we celebrate America’s first female Vice President, our nation is held back as the only modern constitution that fails to enshrine full equality for both men and women. This is unacceptable,” said Senator Cardin. “Most Americans are surprised to learn that the ERA is not already part of the U.S. Constitution. The states have done their job to make this happen. Now Congress must finally do its job and remove any legal obstacles to certifying the ERA.”
“As we begin a new Congress, I can think of no better legislation to lead with than one that removes impediments to find ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment—an amendment that firmly embeds in law equality between men and women. We first moved the ERA through Congress back in 1972, but we stalled out on certification by the states until last year when Virginia ratified the ERA. After years of work alongside Senator Cardin, I urge my colleagues to join us in ensuring equality for all,” said Senator Murkowski.
“Since our country’s founding, women have been left out of the Constitution – intentionally. We were second-class citizens deprived of basic rights to vote, enter most jobs, or own property. To this day, we are paid less for our work, violated with impunity, and disproportionately suffer the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Enough is enough. With President Biden and Vice President Harris at the helm, this will finally be the year we ratify the ERA to the Constitution,” said Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Co-Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.
“We care about ensuring every individual in our great nation, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to enjoy the same basic rights before the law. For survivors of sexual violence, pregnancy discrimination, or unequal pay, the ratification of the ERA will be a critical step towards equal justice,” said Congressman Tom Reed. “This isn’t an issue of politics – it’s an issue of fairness for all Americans. Congress must press forward and end any unnecessary barriers to the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.”
“The health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on many underlying problems we, as a nation, have yet to resolve, including rampant gender discrimination. To build back better under the Biden-Harris Administration, we must go beyond band-aid solutions and temporary fixes.,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.). “Women and all marginalized genders need equality under the law. This can only be secured by adding the Equal Rights Amendment to our Constitution. It is long past time to finally cement gender equality in our nation’s most important text, once and for all.”
“This is an historic and monumental step forward for all 94 percent of Americans who agree that women should have equal rights in our Constitution. In a time of deep division, here is something we all agree on: there can be no time limit on equality,” said Carol Jenkins, President of the ERA Coalition. “We thank Senators Cardin and Murkowski and Reps. Speier and Reed for their bipartisan leadership and tireless commitment to equality. Against a backdrop of national turmoil and pain, today shows that progress is still possible, and the ERA is a great unifying opportunity to secure a more equal future for everyone.”
The full text of S.J.Res. 1 is below and at this link. The resolution passed the House of Representatives in 2020 but did not receive a vote in the Senate.
Removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That notwithstanding any time limit contained in House Joint Resolution 208, 92nd Congress, as agreed to in the Senate on March 22, 1972, the article of amendment proposed to the States in that joint resolution shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution whenever ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States.