Senate Might Extend Deadline For State Ratification of ERA

The Senate indicated in a key vote yesterday it will probably extend the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment by deciding that states that approved the ERA cannot use the additional time to rescind their vote.

Sen. Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), principal Senate sponsor of the extension, predicted the Senate will approve the ERA extension by a wide margin when the issue comes to a final vote Friday.

By a 54-44 margin, the Senate rejected Sen. Jake Garn's (R-Utah) proposal to couple an additional 39-month ratification period with an opportunity for ratifying states to cancel their vote.

The vote yesterday was a major setback for those fighting addition of the ERA to the U.S. Constitution, Garn said.

Passage of Garn's proposal "would have effectively killed any chance for final ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment," Bayh said in a statement after the vote.


The ERA, initially approved by Congress in 1972, needs ratification by 38 states to become part of the Constitution.

Thirty-five legislatures have ratified the ERA, but Idaho, Nebraska and Tennessee have voted to reverse their stands. Kentucky's acting governor subsequently vetoed Kentucky's rescinding vote.

The vote yesterday does not apply to the decision votes of Idaho, Nebraska and Tennessee. Congress must still determine whether to permit the three states to reverse their stands after all states have voted on the ERA, Bayh told the Senate.