A group of House Democrats protesting the Senate’s inability to pass the Equal Rights Amendment were quickly expelled after barging onto the floor of the upper chamber during a vote Thursday.
The Senate was in the middle of voting on whether to remove the deadline that prevents the proposed constitutional amendment from being ratified when a dozen House Democrats — led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) — marched through the Capitol halls and onto the Senate floor.
“I’m getting kicked out. I’m not even in the area. We have a lot of rules around here, but listen we’re getting expelled out of here, we just left where they don’t have enough votes to pass the ERA,” Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pa.) said in a video posted on Twitter Thursday.
“It’s a shame that 100 years after the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced, we are still fighting for gender equality in our Constitution,” the progressive freshman congresswoman wrote on Twitter.
In a video posted by Pressley, who co-chairs the Congressional Equal Rights Amendment Caucus along with Bush, the Massachusetts Democrat and member of the progressive “squad” group of House lawmakers is seen outside the Senate chamber with a dozen or so colleagues who explain their protest.
“Gender equality can’t wait, there should be no deadline for that,” Pressley says, adding, “We’re going to go in here, look at our Senate colleagues and demand they do the right thing by the women of this country.”
The lawmakers chanted, “What do we want? ERA! When do we want it? Now!” as they moved on from their Senate protest and marched outside the Capitol to hold a press conference.
The resolution, which needed three-fifths majority support to pass, failed in a 51-47 vote.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) were the only Republicans to vote with Democrats in favor of removing the deadline for ratification.
Republicans who oppose the ERA generally argue that the amendment is not needed because the same protections are offered in the 14th Amendment.
The ERA has been ratified by 38 state legislatures since 1972 – enough to meet the three-fourths threshold for approval – but some states adopted the amendment after the 1979 deadline imposed by Congress, which was later extended to 1982. Several other states have since rescinded their support of the measure.
Thursday’s resolution would have lifted the 1982 deadline.
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