August 13, 2021
The Equal Rights Amendment deadline removal bill, H.J. Res. 17, passed the House on March 17 (222-204) and has been placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar. It could be voted on at any time. However, there is the problem with the filibuster and steadfast Republican opposition. While it is likely that all 50 Democrats would vote for the legislation, plus the two Republicans that have signed on (Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins), we would still need eight more Republicans to overcome a threatened filibuster.
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who is the lead sponsor of S. J. Res. 1, identical to the House version, has advised grassroots activists that if they recruit any co-sponsors, they must match a Democrat with a Republican co-sponsor. Currently, there are only four co-sponsors, in addition to Murkowski and Collins, Maine Independent Sen. Angus King, and Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey. Without the 60 votes necessary, the ERA deadline removal legislation will languish and perhaps die at the end of the 117th Congress – as happened in the 116th Congress. Should a miracle occur and the filibuster disappears, the bill could be passed very quickly with all Democrats and the two Republicans voting.
On the more hopeful news front, a letter signed by member organizations of the ERA Coalition, Including NOW, asks Attorney General Merrick Garland to withdraw a memorandum that was issued by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Department of Justice during the Trump administration. The memorandum concluded that the deadline had expired and that the Equal Rights Amendment was no longer pending before the states. Withdrawal of that memorandum could help pave the way for the eventual enshrinement of the ERA in the U.S. Constitution. The letter to Attorney General Garland is attached here, and National NOW is already a signer.
Thanks to Jan Erickson, Director of Government Relations, National NOW.