Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a measure that would have allowed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to be added to the Constitution.
Senators voted 51 to 47 to invoke cloture on a motion to proceed, falling short of the 60 votes it it needed.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine) were the lone Republicans to vote with every Democrat.
The ERA passed Congress in 1972, having been first proposed in 1923. Constitutional amendments, under U.S. law, must be ratified by three-quarters of all state legislatures, meaning 38 states.
In 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, but it did so after the 1982 deadline to ratify the amendment had passed.
The Senate resolution would have removed the deadline so that the ERA could become the 28th Amendment. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Murkowski were the resolution’s lead co-sponsors.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued throughout the week that the legislation was needed following the Supreme Court‘s ruling last summer that overturned Roe v. Wade.
“This resolution is as necessary as it is timely. America can never hope to be a land of freedom and opportunity so long as half of its population is treated like second class citizens,” Schumer said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.
“There is no good reason — none — for this chamber, this Congress and this nation to bind itself to limitations set 50 years ago,” he continued. “If you look at the terrible things happening to women’s rights in this country, it’s clear we must act. To the horror of hundreds of millions of American people, women in America have far fewer rights today than they did a year ago.”
Schumer switched his vote to “no” in order to bring up the bill at another time.
Nearly a dozen House Democrats marched across the Capitol to the Senate shortly before the vote began on Thursday to demand that the upper chamber pass the measure.
During the trek through the building, members of the ERA Caucus and Democratic Women’s Caucus chanted “what do we want? ERA. When do we want it? Now.”
“We’re right outside the Senate chamber while the vote is happening for the ERA right now. So the House is standing, saying to the Senate we need you to make the ERA happen today. ERA now,” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), a co-chair of the ERA Caucus, said before entering the Senate chamber.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), another co-chair of the Caucus, said “gender equality can’t wait, there should be no deadline for that.”
“It’s been over 100 years, we deserve for gender equality to be enshrined in the Constitution. We’re gonna go in here, look at our Senate colleagues and demand they do the right thing, do the right thing by the women of this country,” she added.