PHOTOS: Bustos Helps Pass Historic Package to Protect Against Gender Discrimination, Violence

This Women’s History Month, Bustos re-authorizes VAWA and votes to eliminate arbitrary time limit on historic ERA

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) helped pass a package of historic bills to protect against gender discrimination, in equality, and violence, and honor Women’s History Month.

PHOTOS: Congresswoman Bustos joins women in the House in honor of the historic Equal Rights Amendment

“Today, I was proud to vote on a historic package of bills that would protect against gender discrimination and violence, and help bring us closer to true equality,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “Right now, women are forced to rely on inconsistent laws for protection of our equal rights, all while facing staggering rates of discrimination and domestic and gender-based violence. With today’s votes, we take another step toward strengthening current law, ensure that women have the resources they need to seek justice, and guarantee and honor the fundamental rights of all.”

Congresswoman Bustos voted to pass a joint, bipartisan resolution to remove an arbitrary time limit previously set by Congress for the states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment to the Constitution that guarantees equal rights for women.

Congresswoman Bustos also voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), which helps provide the resources and tools needed to protect women from domestic violence. The landmark VAWA legislation was first passed by Congress and signed into law in 1994 and, like previous reauthorizations, this bill makes improvements based on the recommendations of law enforcement, victim service providers and other experts. The bipartisan bill will now head to the Senate.

PHOTOS: Congresswoman Bustos joins women in the House in honor of the historic Equal Rights Amendment

Background – ERA

The ERA was first proposed in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul, just a few years after women gained the right to vote.  The constitutional amendment was then introduced in every session of Congress until it passed in 1972 by bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate.  Congress then placed an arbitrary seven-year deadline on the ratification process before extending the deadline to 1982, but only 35 ratified the ERA before the arbitrary deadline.  However, with the recent ratifications of the ERA by Nevada in 2017, Illinois in 2018 and Virginia in 2020, the 38 states needed for certification of the ERA to be become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has now been reached.

The Equal Rights Amendment simply states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.”

Background – VAWA

This bipartisan legislation reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act and makes vital improvements to address gaps in the current law by:

  • Improving the services available for victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking;
  • Expanding the housing protections and financial assistance available for victims and survivors;
  • Closing loopholes to help prevent “intimate partner” homicides, by prohibiting persons convicted of stalking or dating violence from possessing firearms; and
  • Investing in tools and resources for law enforcement and evidence-based prevention programs that make our communities safer.