182 House Republicans vote against equal rights for women

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A House resolution removing the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment passed Thursday with just five GOP votes.

Nearly every House Republican voted against a resolution that could help ratify the Equal Rights Amendment on Thursday, citing a litany of excuses not to enshrine equality on the basis of sex in the Constitution.

The House of Representatives voted, 232 to 183, for a resolution to remove the 1982 deadline for states to ratify the ERA. Five Republicans joined all 227 Democrats present in voting for the measure; 182 Republicans and a conservative independent voted against.

During Thursday's floor debate, some Republicans said they opposed the resolution on constitutional grounds, but many argued against the Equal Rights Amendment on its merits.

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Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) warned that banning discrimination would mean women could no longer enjoy discounts. "Girls get substantially lower rates on auto insurance because they're better drivers," he said, adding that, with a constitutional ban on sex discrimination, such advantages "would become unconstitutional and girls are going to have to pay boy-drivers' rates for auto insurance."

Sensenbrenner also said that, although women "live longer than men," women would also have to pay more for life insurance than they do now.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MS) said the ERA "would not bring women any more rights than they currently have right now."

But, she said, the amendment would jeopardize "private spaces for women, girls sports programs, and women's education institutions." She also claimed it would endanger welfare programs, grants for battered women shelters, efforts to encourage women's participation in STEM programs, and state alimony and custody laws.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) warned that if the Constitution bans discrimination on the basis of sex it would "clear the way to provide taxpayer-funded abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy, costing millions of dollars every year."

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) claimed that ERA ratification "would have a harmful impact on shelters that protect women from violence, eliminate women-specific workplace protections, and destroy women's sports."

The House vote comes just a month after Virginia became the 38th state to approve the 1972 constitutional amendment. This typically would be the last state needed for ratification by three-fourths of the states, but because Congress included a time limit for ratification, and because some of those states have since attempted to rescind their ratification votes, it is unclear what will happen next.

State attorneys general for Virginia, Illinois, and Nevada filed a federal lawsuit last month to demand the ERA be considered part of the Constitution. The Trump administration's lawyers say the amendment has been dead for decades and the process must start again from scratch.

House proponents hope to improve the amendment's chances of survival via the current resolution. Now that it has passed in the House, it moves to the Republican-led Senate, but like all progressive legislation, it's unlikely to get a vote there. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that he is "personally not a supporter" of the Equal Rights Amendment.

A 2016 poll found 94% support for such an amendment. This was roughly consistent with other polls in recent decades that have shown overwhelming bipartisan support.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.