WASHINGTON — Here’s how state members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week that ended Friday.
New life for the Equal Rights Amendment: By a vote of 232 to 183, the House on Thursday adopted a measure, HJ Res 79, that would advance the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution by replacing a long-expired deadline for states to vote on ratification with an open-ended deadline. The ERA states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”
Congress on March 22, 1972, sent the ERA to the states, allowing seven years for them to muster the three-fourths majority (38) needed for ratification. The legislatures of 35 states voted to ratify, although five — Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee and South Dakota — rescinded their approvals on or before the March 22, 1977, deadline. In 1978, Congress and President Jimmy Carter set a new deadline of June 30, 1982, but no states came aboard during the extension. Nevada, Illinois and Virginia have voted to ratify the ERA since 1982.
Republicans said ERA ratification would boost the pro-abortion rights agenda and result in more abortions. They also argued that women’s rights are protected by the Fifth and 14th amendments to the Constitution and laws including the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Democrats cited an interview that former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia gave to The Atlantic in 2001, in which he said: “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”
Voting yes: Suzan DelBene, D-Medina; Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens; Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor; Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle; Kim Schrier, D-Issaquah; Adam Smith, D-Bellevue; Denny Heck, D-Olympia
Voting no: Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane
Expanding protected wilderness by 1.4 million acres: By 231 to 183 vote, the House on Wednesday passed a bill, HR 2546, that would add nearly 1.4 million unspoiled acres in Colorado, California and Washington state to the 111-million-acre National Wilderness Protection System, which permanently safeguards federally owned land, mostly in the West, from commercial development, including hard-rock mining and oil and natural gas drilling. The newly added acreage is in areas including Washington’s Olympic Peninsula; northwestern California; the Santa Monica Mountains and Central Coast in California; and 36 distinct areas of Colorado, mostly on the Western Slope. The bill also would set aside 100,000 acres as national monument areas and expand the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. In addition, the bill authorizes the departments of Interior and Agriculture to take whatever measures are necessary to prevent and fight wildfires in federally protected wilderness areas.
Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, Jayapal, Schrier, Smith, Heck
Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, Rodgers
Preventing and fighting fires in wilderness areas: By a 199 to 215 vote, the House on Wednesday defeated a Republican motion that sought to ensure that mechanized fire-prevention and firefighting equipment would have unhindered access to wilderness areas protected by HR 2546. This would be in addition to assurances in the bill that federal agencies have full authority to take actions to prevent and fight fires in the designated areas.
Voting yes: Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, Rodgers, Schrier
Voting no: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, Jayapal, Smith, Heck
Asserting congressional control over war with Iran: The Senate on Thursday voted 55 to 45 to require the administration to obtain advance congressional approval for military actions against Iran or its proxy forces except when there is an imminent threat to the United States, its armed forces or its territories. The bipartisan vote sent the measure, SJ Res 68, to the House and likely on to President Donald Trump, who says he will veto it. The measure invokes the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which asserts the power of Congress to declare war under Article I of the Constitution. Under that Vietnam-era law, presidents must notify Congress within 48 hours when they send the U.S. military into combat, and withdraw the forces within a specified period unless Congress has authorized the action. Last year, the House and Senate invoked the war-powers law to end America’s military involvement in Yemen’s civil war, but lost their bid when Trump vetoed the measure.
Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D; Patty Murray, D