Spanberger, Virginia Lawmakers Urge U.S. Senate to Remove Deadline to Ratify Equal Rights Amendment

In January 2020, Virginia Became the 38th and Final State Needed to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) today joined U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mark Warner (D-VA), as well as U.S. Representatives Elaine Luria (D-VA-02), Donald Beyer (D-VA-08), Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10), and Gerald Connolly (D-VA-11) in calling on U.S. Senate leadership to hold a vote on the floor to remove the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

House Joint Resolution 17 (H.J.Res.17) — on which Spanberger is an original cosponsor and voted to pass in March 2021 — would remove the deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The amendment would guarantee constitutional protections against discrimination and further empower Congress to enact legislation advancing gender equality. On January 27, 2020, the ERA met the final legal requirement for ratification under Article V when Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the amendment.

In a letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Spanberger and members of the Virginia congressional delegation called on leaders to hold a vote on H.J.Res.17 to remove the previous deadline to ratify the ERA. Additionally, the letter highlighted the arbitrary nature of the deadline.

“For over 250 years, American women have been denied the same legal rights and protections as men under the law. This is unacceptable,” wrote the bicameral group of lawmakers. “We believe that there should be no time limit on equality. The ERA time limit was contained in a joint resolution’s proposing clause, not in the actual text of the amendment, and Congress has previously voted to extend the time for ERA ratification.”

The lawmakers continued, “The House has passed legislation eliminating the time limit for ratification. Now it is up to the Senate to remove any obstacles to certifying the ERA as the 28th amendment. More than a century after women fought for and earned the right to vote, our progress as a nation is incomplete unless all women are able to achieve freedom and equality.”

Click here to read the letter, and the full letter text is below.

Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell:

We write to you today regarding the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in the United States Constitution. For over 250 years, American women have been denied the same legal rights and protections as men under the law. This is unacceptable. Women have waited too long for our nation to fulfill its promise of equality. We urge you to bring H.J.Res.17, a resolution that would facilitate the ratification of the ERA, to the floor for consideration before the end of the 117th Congress. 

When Congress first passed the ERA in 1972, it required three-fourths of the states to ratify the amendment within seven years. By 1977, 35 states had ratified the ERA and in 1978, falling short of the required 38 states for adoption, Congress extended the time limit an additional three years. We are proud that in January 2020 Virginia became the 38th and final state needed to ratify the ERA.

We believe that there should be no time limit on equality. The ERA time limit was contained in a joint resolution’s proposing clause, not in the actual text of the amendment, and Congress has previously voted to extend the time for ERA ratification. H.J.Res.17 would remove this arbitrary time limit entirely and ensure that the final ratifying states are counted.

The required 38 states have now ratified the ERA. The House has passed legislation eliminating the time limit for ratification. Now it is up to the Senate to remove any obstacles to certifying the ERA as the 28th amendment. More than a century after women fought for and earned the right to vote, our progress as a nation is incomplete unless all women are able to achieve freedom and equality. We urge you to immediately move to consider H.J.Res.17 and bring the resolution to a final vote on the Senate floor.

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