Cardin’s effort to push ERA forward falls short in the Senate


WASHINGTON – A resolution to recognize the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) as the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution failed to clear a procedural vote in the Senate Thursday.

The Senate voted 51-47 in favor of the bipartisan resolution introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, but fell nine votes shy of the 60-vote threshold needed to clear a filibuster.

As the vote came to a close and it became all but certain that the resolution would not receive the requisite 60 votes, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, changed his vote to a “no” so he could make a motion to reconsider the resolution at a later time this session.

At a press conference following the vote, Cardin struck a note of optimism as he emphasized the historic nature of the vote.

“When I started a decade ago trying to get this resolution passed, I had 17 cosponsors,” Cardin told a crowd outside of the United States Capitol. “Today, we have 53 senators who have expressed their support. This is not the end. We will never stop until we have equality and the Equal Rights Amendment as a part of the Constitution.”

The resolution would have waived the arbitrary 1982 deadline for 38 states to ratify the amendment and would recognize the Equal Rights Amendment as a valid part of the Constitution. In 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, nearly 40 years after the 1982 deadline expired.

“Now, there is no good reason that we bind ourselves to limitations that were said 50 years ago by politicians who are long gone to prevent us today from guaranteeing equality for women and we are going to fight and fight and fight until we win,” Schumer said, referring to the ratification deadline. “This is what America is all about.”

The push to recognize the ERA in the Senate came together quickly, following an announcement Monday by Schumer that there would be a vote this week.

Prior to the vote, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, a sponsor of the bill alongside Cardin and one of only two Republicans voting in favor of the resolution, indicated that she felt the vote had been rushed.

“I’m not entirely pleased with the timing of our debate here on the resolution because we have not yet secured the 60 votes needed for its passage, ” Murkowski said on the Senate floor. “I don’t really like it being used as filler on the floor, as somewhat of an exercise that runs the clock on a largely empty legislative calendar. I don’t see how the ERA or women in this country will ultimately benefit from that. But I am proud to lead this resolution with Senator Cardin.”

Although the resolution was supported by a majority of senators, its failure highlighted the challenges presented by the filibuster.

Zakiya Thomas, president and CEO of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality told reporters after the vote: “The Equal Rights Amendment didn’t fall short today. Democracy did.”

Members of the newly formed House ERA Caucus were on hand for the Senate vote Thursday and as Cardin spoke before the vote, protesters chanting “ERA! Now!” could be heard loud and clear in the Senate chamber. Later in the proceedings, a protester was removed from the Senate gallery after she began shouting at Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and demanding recognition of the ERA.