Senator Cardin Led ERA Push 51 Years After Voting to Ratify It
For Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), there’s an element of deja vu in his push to put the Equal Rights Amendment in the Constitution.
He’s been here before. Specifically, 51 years ago in the Maryland House of Delegates, when he voted to ratify the ERA the first time. Now, Cardin is leading the charge in the U.S. Senate alongside Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to allow the ERA to move forward. “It’s time to finish the work,” he said on the Senate floor Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s vote on the amendment. “There is no time limit on equality.”
The effort, however, failed in the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 51-47, short of overcoming the Senate filibuster requiring the support of 60 senators to advance a bill.
“This is not the end,” Cardin said at a news conference with ERA advocates after the vote. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) added: “We lost this vote. We are going to win this fight,” leading advocates in a chant.
The ERA would be the 28th amendment to the Constitution, enshrining a protection against sex discrimination. Cardin’s resolutionsought to remove a deadline for states to ratify the amendment that Congress created in 1972 and extended once. But in an interviewwith The Washington Post ahead of the vote, Cardin already anticipated difficulty getting enough Republicans to vote for his resolution — creating a sense of disappointment for the senator that it was easier to build a large bipartisan coalition to support an amendment against sex discrimination in 1972 than it has been in 2023.
“I think we all felt that this would be ratified. We didn’t know how long it would take, but we knew this would happen,” Cardin said, reflecting on 1972. But “it’s very frustrating, no question about it,” headded, realizing that in fact it stillmight not happen — at least not today.
Dozens of advocates of the ERA spanning several generations stood with Democratic senators to express disappointment in Republicans who did not back the amendment — only Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) did — while pledging to keep on the pressure.