Just five Republicans — Representatives John Curtis of Utah, Rodney Davis of Illinois, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Tom Reed of New York and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey — joined all Democrats in voting in favor.
Many Democratic women wore purple to the House floor to debate and cast their votes on the measure, in a nod to the purple sashes worn by the suffragists over their white outfits.
“Millions of American women still face inequality under the law and injustice in their careers and lives,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a speech before the vote. “It’s not just about women, it’s about America. The E.R.A. will strengthen America, unleashing the full power of women in our economy and upholding the value of equality in our democracy.”
The bill does have bipartisan backing in the Senate, where it is sponsored by Senators Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, and Ben Cardin, Democrat of Maryland.
Republican opponents argued the amendment is unnecessary, because the 14th Amendment already guarantees equal treatment for all citizens under the law. They noted that five states — Nebraska, Tennessee, Idaho, Kentucky and South Dakota — had tried to rescind their ratification votes in the 1970s.
And they warned that it would result in the expansion of abortion rights.
“This is an open door to abortion on demand with no restriction, no government interference — in fact, government will pay for it,” warned Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee.
Students for Life, which organizes college students around opposition to abortion, also waged a call-in campaign, urging members to lobby their representatives to oppose the amendment.