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Congresswoman Escobar Votes to Remove the Time Limit for Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment

Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Vice Chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus, voted to pass H.J.Res. 17, a joint resolution to remove an arbitrary time limit previously set by Congress for the states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment to the Constitution that guarantees equal rights for women. This joint resolution has bipartisan support and passed the 116th Congress by a bipartisan vote of 232 to 183.

“I am proud to have voted to ensure the long overdue ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which will finally enshrine the principles of women’s equality into our Constitution,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “This vote honors the women – our foremothers, suffragists, and outspoken activists – who have fought for generations for gender equality. The ERA builds on our progress to combat everyday discrimination against women and families in El Paso and across the country.” 

The ERA was first proposed in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul, just a few years after women gained the right to vote. The constitutional amendment was then introduced in every session of Congress until it passed in 1972 by bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. Congress then placed an arbitrary seven-year deadline on the ratification process before extending the deadline to 1982, but only 35 ratified the ERA before the arbitrary deadline. However, with the recent ratifications of the ERA by Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and Virginia in 2020, the 38 states needed for certification of the ERA to be become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has now been reached. 

The Equal Rights Amendment simply states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.” It would affirm women’s equality in our Constitution, enshrining the principle of women’s equality and an explicit prohibition against sex discrimination in the nation’s foundational document.

H.J.Res. 17 removes the arbitrary deadline for ratification set in 1982 and takes a critical step toward ensuring the ERA officially becomes part of our Constitution. As the 28th Amendment, the ERA would: 

  • Give women a key tool in the legal arsenal to combat everyday discrimination women face, including pay discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and sexual and domestic violence.
  • Provide a single, national baseline protection against sex discrimination across the country.
  • Apply the most rigorous judicial review to laws and government policies that discriminate against women and it would ensure that laws or policies that are inconsistent with equality for women be struck down.

The full text of H.J.Res. is available here.

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