Biden Challenges Congress to Take Action on the ERA

“I will continue to fight for the Equal Rights Amendment as I have throughout my career,” said President Joe Biden in his official 2023 Women’s Equality Day proclamation. (Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images)

President Joe Biden issued a challenge to Congress on Saturday “to act swiftly to recognize ratification of the [Equal Rights Amendment]”—part of his official proclamation on Women’s Equality Day, when the U.S. celebrates the formal adoption of the 19th Amendment, which enshrined women’s right to vote into the Constitution in 1920.

“It is long past time to definitively enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution,” said Biden. “Together we can and must build a future where our daughters have all the same rights and opportunities as our sons, where all women and girls have a chance to realize their God-given potential, and where we can finally realize the full promise of America for all Americans.”

ERA advocates have laid out a strategy for final recognition of the ERA: 

  • a joint congressional resolution to remove the timeline and recognize the ratification of the ERA. House Joint Resolution 25 was introduced by Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Senate Joint Resolution 4 by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in the House and Senate, respectively. “Constitutional law scholars carefully crafted this resolution’s language, modeled on the congressional resolution recognizing the 14th Amendment, in order to prevail in any future legal challenges to the ERA,” reported Carrie Baker in Ms.

  • a separate congressional resolution, called the “ERA Now” resolution, instructing the archivist to publish the ERA as the 28th Amendment. Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus for the Equal Rights Amendment, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced the legislation. (The resolution is meant to work in concert with the one above.)

  • a “discharge petition,” which seeks to compel the House of Representatives to vote on H.J. Res. 25 to remove the arbitrary deadline for ratification. Under House rules, if a discharge petition to compel a vote on a particular piece of legislation is signed by 218 members of the House, it must immediately be brought before the full chamber for a vote, regardless of any objections or attempts to block the legislation from being considered. Now that Pressley has filed it, the petition will remain open until it garners the necessary 218 signatures necessary to be called for a vote.

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) announces a joint resolution to affirm the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment on Jan. 31, 2023 in Washington, D.C. The Equal Rights Amendment is a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution meant to guarantee equal rights for all citizens regardless of sex or gender. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

The ERA, along with abortion, will likely play a large role in the 2024 elections, as voters learn whether their senators and representatives support women’s and gender equality. In polling commissioned by Ms. magazine and Feminist Majority Foundation by Lake Research Partners last year, abortion and women’s rights were the most important and highly motivating issues among battleground state young women voters ages 18-29 in determining their vote. Among women voters of all ages in the battleground states, abortion and women’s rights were tied with the economy in determining their votes.

Only with the ERA ratified as part of the Constitution, said Biden, will the U.S. be “a nation worthy of the abilities and ambitions of our women and girls.”

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U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.


Roxanne Szal (or Roxy) is the managing digital editor at Ms. and a producer on the Ms. podcast On the Issues With Michele Goodwin. She is also a mentor editor for The OpEd Project. Before becoming a journalist, she was a Texas public school English teacher. She is based in Austin, Texas. Find her on Twitter @roxyszal.