Cardin said Thursday that Congress "should give the states another chance," and said passage of a joint resolution by both the House and Senate extended the deadline once before, in the late 1970s.

He also noted that the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits congressional pay raises from taking effect immediately, was finally ratified after 203 years. That amendment was ratified in 1992, after first being proposed in 1789.

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Cardin also noted that the Constitution does not set time limits for ratification of amendments by the states, and that extending or removing the prior deadline of 1982 could be done by joint resolution.

The ERA was first proposed in the 1920s, and Congress finally approved it in 1972. Supporters of the amendment say it's needed to explicitly affirm that the national or state governments can not discriminate on the basis of sex.

Cardin noted that last year, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that "certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't."

The amendment reads:

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.

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