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Sewell lends vote to several priority bills for Democrats

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL, this week cast multiple votes in support of key Democratic Party priorities, including the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), an extension of the Violence Against Women Act and to immigration bills.

On Wednesday, Sewell voted in favor of a joint resolution to remove a deadline previously set by Congress for states to ratify the ERA, which states that “[e]quality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex.”

The ERA was first proposed in 1923, shortly after women won the right to vote, and passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan majorities in 1971 and 1972.

The ERA originally included a clause requiring that it be ratified by 1979 – the deadline was extended and by the end of 1982 35 of the 38 state legislatures required to ratify the amendment had done so.

Nevada ratified the ERA in 2017, followed by Illinois in 2018 and Virginia, the 38th state, in 2020.

If the resolution eliminating the deadline for ratification is approved, the ERA would become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“A vote for the ERA is a vote for equality,e arbitrary time limit for the ratification of this seminal legislation,” Sewell said in a press release Wednesday. “Not only would the ERA eliminate laws and policies that harm women and perpetuate inequality, but it would also help fill gaps in existing protections. It’s beyond time that equality for women is enshrined in our founding document and the removal of the ratification deadline would take a critical step toward ensuring that the ERA becomes the 28th Amendment to our Constitution.”

Also on Wednesday, Sewell voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which she said will make “vital new investments in prevention,” improve services for victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and related crimes, improve access to housing for survivors and more.

“The Violence Against Women Act is lifesaving legislation that maintains the safety, resources, and protections critical to domestic violence survivors, particularly for women of color,” Sewell said. “Since this legislation was first enacted in 1994, the rate of domestic violence in America has been cut in half.  But given that 1-in-3 women still experience domestic violence and that the coronavirus crisis has forced many women to quarantine in unsafe domestic situations, the reauthorization of this bill is needed now more than ever.”

“Reauthorization of this bill will strengthen protections for victims and survivors of domestic violence,” Sewell continued. “It is my hope the Senate will pass this bill to make vital improvements to address gaps in current law based on extensive consultation with victim service providers, law enforcement, and other experts.”

On Thursday, Sewell cast votes in support of two immigration-related bills – the American Dream and Promise Act, which creates a path to lawful permanent resident (LPR) status for “dreamers” – immigrants brought to the country illegally as children now protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy – and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which reforms the H-2A temporary agricultural workers program.

“Our country is at its strongest when we embrace our immigrant communities,” Sewell said in a press release Thursday. “I was proud today to vote in favor of two historic immigration bills that will strengthen protections for our Dreamers and our farmworkers. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis has inflicted a devastating toll on immigrant communities and essential frontline workers, including our farmworkers, making the protections in these bills vitally important.”

“The American Dream and Promise Act acknowledges the important contributions made by our nation’s Dreamers to our economy and to our communities by providing a lawful pathway to citizenship,” continued Sewell. “The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides stability, predictability and fairness to the workers who feed America. These bills will work in tandem to ensure our immigrant communities can continue to pursue their American dream as they strengthen, enrich and contribute to our nation.”