WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Congress may be inching closer to adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives held its first hearing in decades on the amendment in decades. At 32 words long, it would make men and women constitutionally equal:
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” it reads.
The effort is backed by women’s rights supporters from across the country.
“It is time for the Constitution to reflect the powerful principles of its first three words: ‘We the people,'” actress Alyssa Milano said at a press conference held by supporters.
“Why not have equal pay for equal work? Why not be in the constitution so you can enforce it?” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said.
The ERA’s language was approved in 1972, but the amendment never got the 38 states required for ratification. In a post-#MeToo era and with a record-breaking number of women in Congress, lawmakers say now is the time for it to move forward. They want Congress to toss the deadline required for ratification and put the amendment back in play.
“Just as Congress has the authority to put the deadline in, they have the right to take the deadline out,” Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said.
“No more excuses. No more excuses,” Rep. Jackie Spear, D-Calif., said.
Some Republicans didn’t attend the first hearing on the matter in almost four decades. Conservatives have argued the ERA could strengthen pro-abortion arguments.
“The people’s right to protect the unborn would be eliminated if the ERA were to pass,” Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., said.
But Republican supporters say those concerns are invalid.
“Equal rights need to occur and we will be a force to stand with you,” Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y., said.
Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, said she thinks the House will support the ERA, but it will face a tougher fight in the Senate.