Representative Jennifer Wexton (center), flanked by Representative Brenda Lawrence and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, applauds in recognition of the recent vote by the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.J. Scott Applewhite / AP

For the first time yesterday, Jennifer Wexton got to use the gavel. The freshman Democratic congresswoman from Virginia presided over a floor debate on a bill to advance the Equal Rights Amendment.

“This wins the prize for the coolest thing I’ve gotten to do as a member of Congress,” she told Edward-Isaac Dovere on the latest episode of The Ticket: Politics From The Atlantic. Listen to the full episode here:

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Four years ago, when Wexton was a state senator in Virginia, she saw her resolution to ratify the decades-old amendment die under Republican leadership. But the ERA got new life in November after Democrats swept local elections. Soon after, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, thereby crossing the three-quarters threshold of states needed to amend the Constitution.

That was step one of contemporary ERA advocates’ two-step strategy.

Step two moved ahead this week when the House of Representatives passed a resolution removing a deadline Congress had set for ratification by the states. Shortly after Wexton oversaw debate on the measure, she sat down with Dovere in her office.

In the episode:

  • Wexton describes her experience of being a woman in politics—from mansplaining in Congress to what her first opponent said in his concession call.
  • Two years after the Parkland, Florida, shooting, the gun-violence conversation has not led to the enactment of national legislation. Wexton talks about how the issue motivated her to get into politics.
  • Also on the show: an exclusive exchange with Andrew Yang, recorded in New Hampshire as he prepared to end his candidacy.

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