A Virginia House committee gave first approval Tuesday to the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, sending the legislation to the chamber floor.
It’s the first step toward what backers say is ratification by a 38th state — the threshold for adding a new amendment to the country’s founding document.
“We are on the precipice of history,” said House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn.
The measure cleared the House Privileges and Elections Committee on a 13-9 party-line vote.
Approval in the House and Senate is expected, with Democrats now in control of both chambers, and the ERA an announced top priority for party leaders.
Yet the vote is not without controversy. Congress, when it sent the ERA to the states for ratification in 1972, set a deadline of the end of that decade for amassing the required states.
ERA backers say the deadline isn’t enforceable, but everyone from the Trump Justice Department to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg say the current version of the ERA is dead and cannot be revived.
Further complicating matters is that a handful of states that ratified the ERA in the 1970s have revoked their ratification.
The National Archives has not yet recognized those revocations, but ERA opponents say they are valid, which would bring the number of states down to 33 with Virginia’s expected action. That would leave the amendment five shy of the threshold.
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