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Congressional Committee To Weigh ERA Deadline

Advocates traveled across Virginia last fall to rally support for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Advocates traveled across Virginia last fall to rally support for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.  (Photo: Whittney Evans)

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee will consider legislation this Wednesday to remove the 1982 deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.  ERA supporters say this will clear a path for Virginia to become the 38th and final state needed to add the amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Virginia Democrats will likely vote to ratify the ERA when they take control of the state house in January. Republicans previously blocked those efforts. Opponents fear the ERA would be used to justify taxpayer-funded abortion. And they argue the effort is moot because the deadline Congress set for ratification has expired.

Jessica Neuwirth, co-founder and co-president of the ERA Coalition, said Congress extended the deadline once before and can do it again.

“The actual voting text that states have ratified did not include any mention of the deadline, which makes it easier to see that the deadline may be something Congress can easily remove if it even needed to be removed,” Neuwirth said.

Congress approved the amendment in 1972 before sending it to the states for ratification. Congress extended an original 1979 deadline to 1982, but when that deadline lapsed the ERA was still three states shy of the 38 needed to add the amendment to the Constitution.

If the bill to remove the deadline passes out of the Judiciary Committee it will go to the floor for a full vote of the House.