House Democrats join immigration fast
Several House Democrats are joining activists fasting on the National Mall for immigration reform, though their hunger strikes will be much shorter.
Freshman Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.) began a fast Tuesday that his office said would last 24 hours.
He began his fast as SEIU member Eliseo Medina, who had been fasting for 22 days, ended his strike.
“I hope to be able to continue those efforts and carry them on,” Kennedy said Tuesday after giving brief remarks to the group of immigration activists in Spanish.
Kennedy’s office said the congressman would only fast for 24 hours before passing it off to Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) on Wednesday.
The congressmen are attempting to sustain the fast by passing it from member to member a day at a time — a plan hatched on the fly Tuesday afternoon.
Vargas’s office said he would take the reins at 11 a.m. Wednesday and is looking for another member to pass it to on Thursday.
Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) also announced separately that they planned to fast alongside the activists on Tuesday.
Medina went to the hospital after ending his fast. He sent out a string of tweets, saying he would recover for the next few days before returning to the Mall.
“Hoping everything [is] OK and [I] can go home. Broth tasted great,” Medina tweeted from the hospital.
Three other activists who had gone without food for more than three weeks also switched out with a fresh group of activists on Tuesday.
Separately, the group released a second letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) inviting him to the camp to debate immigration reform.
The activists, under the banner “Fast for Families,” have been camped on the National Mall since November to pressure the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
A number of high-profile Democrats have visited the fasters, including President Obama and his wife over the weekend. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), a number of House Democrats and other administration officials have also stopped by.
The Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform earlier this year, but the proposal has stalled in the Republican-led House.
— Updated at 8 p.m.