U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis did not stray far from his fellow Republicans during the leadup to impeachment. But he crossed party lines for several recent votes on the Equal Rights Amendment, student loan debt, and emergency aid for Puerto Rico.
Davis on Thursday was one of only five Republicans who voted to remove the deadline on ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment in an attempt to revive the amendment. Changing the deadline is a key part of one route that some ERA proponents believe would lead to the amendment becoming a part of the Constitution, but the path forward is uncertain.
Davis called it a partisan “messaging bill” that Democrats want to use against Republicans. He said it’s not going anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate.
But Davis, a Taylorville Republican, said he voted for the bill because it’s a state’s rights issue.
“There’s a lot of merit to starting the process over. But with what Illinois did (ratifying it in 2018), I thought, being a representative of the state of Illinois, it was best to continue to allow them to have their process and their voice heard,” Davis said on WGLT’s Sound Ideas.
Legal experts have argued the amendment could protect women economically, like helping them get more equal pay and preventing pregnancy discrimination.
Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA in January. Thirty-eight states need to ratify in order for a proposal to become an amendment.
The amendment, proposed in 1972, originally had a ratification deadline of 1979 attached to it. Congress later bumped that out to 1982, but by then, only 35 states had ratified it. But the deadline has never been further extended beyond 1982. The bill passed by the House on Thursday would retroactively remove that deadline.
However, there isn’t legal consensus that Congress can remove the deadline in this way. This week Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she thinks that Congress should junk the current amendment and start over from scratch.
Puerto Rico Emergency Aid
Last week Davis was one of only 17 House Republicans to vote for $4.7 billion in emergency aid to help Puerto Rico recover from recent earthquakes and hurricanes. It passed on a 237-161 vote.
Davis said he met Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez at State of the Union address.
“We’ve seen the disastrous effects of storms that have hit this area and my district over the years,” Davis said. “And I think if there’s one thing that the federal government should do right and invest in, it’s disaster assistance.”
The Trump administration has threatened a veto over concerns about corruption and mismanagement of previous aid.
“That is a big concern. But that shouldn’t stop us from making sure we address the needs that are going to exist when that corruption is fixed,” Davis said. “The officials who let diapers and children’s supplies and water sit in warehouses for a year and a half should be fired. But let’s not kid ourselves: One warehouse full of supplies because of some corrupt bureaucrat isn’t going to fix the problem that still exists in repairing and rebuilding Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.”
Davis represents the 13th Congressional District, which includes parts of Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, and Decatur.