By Shawna Mizelle, CNN
Sirius XM radio host Joe Madison, who is on a hunger strike over what he called a “politically and morally reprehensible” attack on voting rights, told CNN on Friday that he wanted that lawmakers put voting rights “first” when they return from their Thanksgiving recess.
Madison’s comments come as Democrats, who hold a majority in both houses of Congress and control the White House, have come under pressure to pass voting rights reform legislation. But Senate Republicans, who hold 50 chamber seats, have repeatedly blocked the legislation, and left-wing Democrats have increasingly called on their party’s senators to remove the Senate obstruction rule requiring 60 votes. to advance most laws.
In an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon on Friday, Madison, who is on day 12 of the hunger strike, said there had been “physical challenges” but added he was still hopeful that “Senators , on their Thanksgiving vacation while they are reflecting on the abundance of this country, they will reflect on what will happen if our voting rights are not protected.
Madison announced her strike on her radio show on November 8.
“As a political protest, I am starting a hunger strike today by refraining from eating solid food until Congress passes and President Biden signs the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis’ Advancement of Voting Rights Act, “he said at the time.
Since January, at least 19 states have enacted 33 laws that make it harder for Americans to vote, according to an October analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice. The laws mark a new record of restrictive election laws since 2011, and many more bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, the center said.
In early November, John Lewis’s Voting Rights Act, which aims to combat voter suppression, was blocked by Senate Republicans when the Senate proceeded to a procedural vote on whether to open the debate on legislation. The bill restores and updates key elements of the historic Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965, and is named in honor of the civil rights icon and the late Representative John Lewis from Georgia.
The final tally was 50 to 49 with GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voting with the Democrats in favor. At least 10 Republicans should have joined the 50-member Democratic Senate caucus for the legislation to move forward.
Madison said during the strike announcement that he was more concerned about the future of his children and grandchildren than the possible negative health ramifications of the hunger strike.
“Just as food is essential for the existence of life, voting is essential for the existence of democracy,” Madison said Friday.
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