Senate Republicans blocked Democrats’ attempt to preserve the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution, arguing the measure was unnecessary.
The resolution failed to get the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate. The final vote tally fell at 51-47, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer changing his vote to a no — a procedural move that allows him to bring the resolution back up later.
The resolution would have removed the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. It was first passed overwhelmingly in 1971 — then needed 38 states needed to ratify it within seven years. Only 35 states ratified the measure within the original timeline.
A later vote extended the deadline to 1982, but a sufficient number of states still did not ratify. The Senate’s resolution would remove the 1982 deadline and recognize the ERA in the Constitution.
The measure was bipartisan, sponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). But all Republicans save for Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins voted against it, arguing it’s not necessary to include in the Constitution. Opponents also said it raises legal questions about Congress’ authority to remove amendment ratification deadlines or whether states can rescind it.
Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) alluded to the uphill climb for Democrats to get the measure over the finish line on Wednesday.
“It only takes 41 to block,” Thune said, implying Democrats didn’t have the votes for passage. “I think it will be a heavy lift.”
Before the vote, Schumer called the deadline to ratify the ERA “arbitrary” and said it must be passed.
“There is no good reason — none — for this chamber, this Congress, and this nation to bind itself to limitations set fifty years ago,” he said on the Senate floor. “The Constitution itself imposes no such barrier; by keeping this barrier in place — this seven year barrier — all we’re doing is needlessly obeying skewed rules set by politicians who are long gone, and whose views ought not rule the day any longer.”
“In 2023, we should move forward to ratify the ERA with all due haste, because if you look at the terrible things happening to women’s rights in this country, it’s clear that we must act,” he added.