Murkowski Commemorates Centennial of Women’s Right to Vote

100th Anniversary of Senate Passage of 19th Amendment

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke on the Senate floor today in honor of the 100th anniversary of Senate passage of legislation that cleared the way for state ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, giving women the right to vote. During her remarks, Senator Murkowski highlighted the work done and sacrifices endured by suffragists as they sought to gain the right to vote. Following her speech, the Senate passed unanimously Senator Murkowski’s resolution she introduced, alongside all women Senators, celebrating the milestone.

Click here for full text of the resolution.

“Today, most in this body and across the country would agree that women’s full participation in the life of her community and nation are crucial if the promise laid out in our Constitution’s preamble is to ever be fully realized. But in 1788 and for many years thereafter, women could not own property, could not open a bank account on their own or even control the money they earned through their own work. They could not control their destiny, or indeed their own bodies. Justice, tranquility, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty were, for women, what men said they were. That all began to change - June 4, 1919.  The date when finally, after so many years of struggle and failure, the required number of Senators voted “aye” for House Joint Resolution 1, “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution extending the right of suffrage to women”.  It was very simple, yet intensely powerful, a resolution with just one article that read, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation”.

During her remarks, Senator Murkowski explained how that remarkable moment did not come easily as for decades, women across America who sought the promise of our nation for themselves and their daughters, were subjected to insults and ridicule and sometimes even imprisonment and violence. Senator Murkowski also spoke of the transformative impact that women’s right to vote has had on our nation. 

19th Amendment snip

(Click here to watch video.)

“In the following one hundred years since the Senate sent the women’s right to vote to the states for ratification, the right to vote gave women the power to change their lives and to impact our nation in so many positive and profound ways. As a result, our nation has made incredible strides. Today, in 2019, it may be difficult for some to imagine an America without women leaders in every conceivable endeavor. Amazing women have contributed to our nation in countless ways, both large and small. So we have moved from the horse and buggy era to putting a man on the moon—but that man would not have gotten there and back without women mathematicians and engineers.” 

Murkowski also included in her remarks a call to action for the Senate to pass Senate Joint Resolution 6, to remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

“So I rise today to call on all Americans to commemorate this day, to remember all those who made it possible, and to honor them by recognizing that the right to vote—to be heard and valued—is a precious right. It has not always been implemented fairly, and which must always be guarded and defended. As we look to honor the past we must also acknowledge that—like our ancestors—we have much progress still to make. Gaining the right to vote was the first step toward full equality.”  

Also today, Senator Murkowski joined her Senate colleagues, led by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Dianne Feinstein (D- CA), in sending a letter to the Stamp Advisory Committee asking for a stamp to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Background: Senator Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, which has funded the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission since the Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill. The purpose of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, created by Congress, is “to ensure a suitable observance of the centennial of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing for women’s suffrage.”