Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on Monday that the Senate will hold a vote on the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) this week. “In this ominous hour of American history, the Equal Rights Amendment has never been as necessary and urgent as it is today,” Schumer said in a statement.
The New York Democrat pointed to the Supreme Court’s decision last year overturning Roe v. Wade, as well as the current legal battle over the common abortion pill mifepristone, for the new vote on the ERA.
“Recent events like the Supreme Court’s horrible Dobbs decision, uncertainty with critical care drugs like Mifepristone, and a slew of proposed state actions have women in this country facing an uncertain future,” he said.
The ERA, a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee equal rights under the law regardless of sex, was passed by both chambers of Congress and sent to the states for ratification in 1972.
However, Congress set a deadline that the amendment be ratified by the necessary three-fourths — or 38 — of the states by 1979. It voted to extend the deadline until 1982, but only 35 states ultimately ratified the amendment.
After Nevada and Illinois ratified the ERA in 2017 and 2018, Virginia became the 38th state to approve the amendment in 2020.
The bill heading to the Senate floor this week would remove the original deadline for ratification of the ERA and recognize it as “valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution.”
“We are here to stand united, and inch by inch restore, fight for, and expand women’s rights so that the women of today and the generations of tomorrow will not know a future with less access than their mothers had,” Schumer said in Monday’s statement.
“The ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment would finally provide a constitutional remedy against sex discrimination – pushing our country one step closer to finally achieving equal justice under the law,” he added.
Fifty-two senators have signed onto the bill, including Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who introduced the legislation alongside Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
However, the inclusion of the ERA in the Constitution faces several barriers beyond a vote in Congress, including legal questions of whether Congress has the authority to remove the original deadline on the amendment’s ratification and whether states can rescind their ratification.
Five states — Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Dakota — have voted to rescind their ratification of the ERA.