RICHMOND — A last-ditch effort to advance the federal Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia this year failed Friday, as Republicans blocked a parliamentary move to get it before a committee.
The defeat came even as a majority of lawmakers in both the House and the Senate — both narrowly controlled by Republicans — signed on as sponsors of ERA bills this year. The same was true last year, but that legislation never got out of committee and to a floor vote in either chamber.
Longtime advocates for making Virginia the 38th state to ratify the ERA thought they had momentum on their side this time. In an election year with every seat in the legislature on the ballot in November, Republicans are eager to win back suburban women, who have left the party in recent elections.
The GOP-led Senate passed an ERA bill last week, with seven Republicans joining Democrats on a 26-to-14 vote. A majority of delegates in the Republican-led House support passage, but on Friday, the House Privileges and Elections Committee voted 12 to 10 along party lines to block the measure from getting a floor vote.
The ERA’s chances have looked bleak since Tuesday, when a subcommittee rejected four ERA bills. On Friday, Mark D. Sickles (D-Fairfax) tried to bring one of the bills before the full committee, but with no debate, his motion failed on a party-line vote.
The amendment, if ratified by enough states, would enshrine in the Constitution a prohibition on discrimination based on sex, although opponents say the federal deadline for passage expired years ago.