GFWC is a NON-PARTISAN organization, advocating for universal issues germane to the organization without a political bent. Our goals are to educate members about policy issues and pending legislation, while mobilizing members to advocate for GFWC policy priorities.
The GFWC LEGISLATIVE ACTION CENTER is an incredible tool to educate our members on important issues. Not only can we send legislative alerts, we can also send updates to keep our members informed.
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The Equal Rights Amendment
Did you know that the Equal Rights Amendment is not part of the United States Constitution? When polled by the Opinion Research Corporation, 96% of Americans agreed that men and women should have equal rights, but 72% thought that these rights were already guaranteed by the Constitution.
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
The ERA was written by Alice Paul, a suffragist leader, and introduced in Congress in 1923. It took until 1972 for Congress to pass the amendment. It was then sent to the states for ratification with a seven-year deadline. An extension was passed by Congress with a new deadline of 1982. Unfortunately, to this date, only 37 of the required 38 states have ratified the ERA, with Illinois having just passed it on May 29th, 2018. Congress has already demonstrated that the ratification deadline can be extended thereby keeping in play the 37 states that have already approved it. Eliminating the time limit for ratification would allow the ERA to be added to the Constitution whenever one final state ratifies it. There is nothing in the Constitution which requires a deadline be set at all. Please contact your members of Congress and urge them to extend or eliminate the deadline for ratification of this important amendment to our Constitution. You may also support this effort on Facebook or hold a tweet party at one of your meetings by having all your members send a twitter message telling Congress to eliminate the deadline. With one more state’s approval, the Equal Rights Amendment would become part of the Constitution thereby guaranteeing equal protection for women and men under the law.
How does a bill become a law?
Bills are introduced in the House of Representatives. There is no certain number of days required for a bill to become law, but it must be voted on in the same congressional session or same year that it is introduced. If it is not voted on during the session, it can be reintroduced the following year, when it must start its journey over again.
- A sponsor is the first member of the House or Senate to introduce a bill for consideration.
- A "cosponsor" is a senator or representative who adds his or her name as a supporter.
- An "initial cosponsor" or "original cosponsor" is a senator or representative who was listed as a cosponsor at the time of a bill's introduction, rather than added later.
- A cosponsor added after the initial introduction is known as an "additional cosponsor".
- Once introduced the bill is referred to one or more committees for review.
- The Committee Chairman determines if a hearing is held.
- There may be a Mark-up (meaning a sub-committee may hold a hearing).
- A committee chairman’s staff member writes a report describing the legislation.
- The Speaker of the House and Majority Leader of the Senate determine if and when a bill comes before the full body for debates, amendment, and final vote.
- When the House or the Senate passes a bill, it is referred to the other chamber where it usually follows the same route through committees and floor action.
- The chamber may approve the bill as received or reject, ignore, or amend it before voting.
- If the House and Senate versions of the bill contain significant or numerous differences, a conference committee is officially appointed for reconciliation.
- If the conference committee is unable to reach an agreement, the legislation dies.
- If agreement is reached, a conference report is prepared with recommendations for changes.
- Both the House and Senate must approve of the conference report.
- If either the House or Senate chamber rejects the conference report the legislation dies.
- After the conference report has been approved by both the House and Senate, the final bill is sent to the President.
- Presidential action options:
- Approves of the legislation, signs it and it becomes law.
- Opposes the legislation, vetoes it.
- Congress may override the veto, which requires a quorum present and a roll call vote with 2/3 voting in the positive.
- Does not act for ten days while Congress is in session, bill automatically becomes law.
- Takes no action after Congress has adjourned its second session, it is a “pocket veto” and the legislation dies.
About the Committee System
- The House’s Committees consider bills and issues and oversee agencies, programs, and activities within their jurisdictions.
- Due to high volume and complexity of its work, the Senate divides its tasks among 20 committees, 68 subcommittees, and 4 joint committees.
Although the Senate committee system is like that of the House of Representatives, it has its own guidelines, within which each
committee adopts its own rules. This creates considerable variation among the panels.
US Senate Caucuses
- Informal congressional groups and organizations of Members with shared interests in specific issues or philosophies have been part of the American policymaking process since colonial times.
- Typically, these groups organize without official recognition by the chamber and are not funded through the appropriation process.
- In the Senate, there is one officially recognized caucus -- the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, established by law in 1985.
US House of Representatives
To access the list of and to visit any US House of Representative Committee, go to www.house.gov. At the top, click on the word COMMITTEES.
To access the list of and to visit any US Senate Committee, go to www.senate.gov. At the top, click on the word COMMITTEES.
Please share this information with your members. Know how our system of enacting laws works. Visit these sites often. Find and track bills as they move through the process. Contact your legislators and voice your opinion. If there is a GFWC or GFWC Pennsylvania Resolution that relates to the issue, use the power of the numbers by including the fact that you are a member of these organizations.
And remember to REPORT any actions taken or activities completed!!
US Legislators for Pennsylvania
Pat Toomey (202) 224-4254
Robert P. Casey, Jr (202) 224-6324
House of Representatives
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