But Republicans aren’t the only ones shying away from the issue. In the Democratic-controlled 111th Congress, the ERA bill went virtually nowhere and the proposals sat in committees.
Still, Francis thinks the ERA eventually will join the Constitution. There may come a day, she said, when an unfair court case, a sexist law or a grievance against women will push gender inequality to the forefront of the nation’s attention and remind people about the “need for an ERA.”
“There is a reasonable chance that the ERA will eventually be repassed by Congress, but not until the economic crisis is over and economic issues stop dominating domestic politics,” Mansbridge said.
Leading sponsors agree that the ERA won’t be passed in the next few years, but that doesn’t mean the issue will disappear.
“Realistically, it’s probably not going to come up for a vote soon,” Biggert acknowledged. “That said, this issue won’t be resolved until discrimination is no longer a fact of life in America, and we aren’t there yet.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.