House Republicans Said They’d Vote if ERA Got To The Floor: They Missed Their Chance
Over the last few weeks, we were told on numerous occasions that if a resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment got to the floor of the House of Delegates, a number of Republicans would vote for it, and Virginia would become the state that would add the ERA to the U.S. Constitution. Yesterday, we learned that was wrong.
I offered a floor amendment to a Senate Joint Resolution that, if supported, would place the House on record as ratifying the ERA; it couldn’t get much clearer than that. The resolution addressed equal protection under the law; so did my amendment. My amendment did not seek to change a Rule. It did not request the “discharge” of a committee, a procedural tactic designed to bring the ERA to the floor since it has been bottled up in committee. It was a one paragraph addition to SJR 275 to support the ERA.
The Republican leadership did not even permit me the opportunity to argue in favor of amending the resolution; I was only able to do it after the fact, during a point of personal privilege. Instead, without any debate, the Speaker and the majority leader forced a vote to re-refer the resolution to the House Courts of Justice Committee, which has finished its business for the year. You can see our response to this outrageous exercise of raw political power that denied the right of the majority to actually vote on the ERA here.
Although it was their leadership which engineered a way to duck a vote, each and every Republican supported the motion to re-refer. It would only have taken 2 Republicans voting with the 49 Democrats to keep SJR 275 on the floor, and then we could have voted on the amendment. This was their chance to actually take a vote on ratifying the ERA, and they blew it. I imagine ERA advocates all over Virginia are taking notice of promises made but not honored when the opportunity was presented, and of friends who stood with them when the choice was clear.
Today we will debate the proposed changes to the House of Delegates Rules that would allow the existing ERA ratification resolution to come to the floor for a vote. I hope you will watch our floor session by visiting this link.