Radio host says he won't eat until Congress passes voting rights legislation

An African American radio host says he won't eat until Congress passes voting rights legislation. 

“As a political protest, I am beginning a hunger strike today by abstaining from eating any solid food until Congress passes, and President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE signs, the Freedom to Vote Act or the John LewisJohn LewisDemocratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills With extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Obama, Dave Chappelle nominated in same Grammy category MORE Voting Rights Advancement Act,” Joe Madison, host of SiriusXM Urban View, said on his show Monday. 

"And I repeat, just as food is necessary to sustain life, the right to vote is necessary to sustain democracy," he said. 

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Last week, Senate Republicans blocked the legislative body from starting debate on a voting rights bill named after the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). 

Other legislation on voting rights — bills would have gone beyond bolstering the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — has also failed to advance in the Senate this year. Last week's version picked up two key moderate votes in Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill Congress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Democratic frustration growing over stagnating voting rights bills MORE (R-Alaska) and Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinTrump haunts Biden vaccine mandate in courts IRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks MORE (D-W.Va.), but still failed to garner the 60 votes needed to move forward.

Madison, a longtime progressive broadcaster and activist, said taking action is "not just a slogan," for him. 

"It is what drives me and inspires me," he said. "So I have begun this hunger strike, I should say this, in solidarity — let me repeat, in solidarity — with all those who are calling on Congress and the president of the United States to protect our voting rights." 

Over the summer, President Biden implored members of both parties on Capitol Hill to take swift action on voting rights, saying such action is necessary to combat laws in Republican controlled states that he and other leading Democrats have argued are trying to suppress minority votes. 

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"Perhaps most of all, it means continuing the cause that John was willing to give his life for: protecting the sacred right to vote," Biden said in July. "Not since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s have we seen such unrelenting attacks on voting rights and the integrity of our elections — from the Big Lie to the insurrection on January 6th to the new waves of voter suppression and a new front of election subversion."

Enhanced voting rights is one of the issues some Democrats and outside advocacy groups have cited as an action item that cannot be accomplished with current Senate rules on debate in place. In September, a renewed push to advance the legislation was accompanied by calls from a number of Senate Democrats to abolish the legislative filibuster.

"I am here to say, at some point we've got to change these moments into movements," Madison said on his radio show. "And the difference between a moment and a movement is sacrifice. And although this is a moral as well as political cause for me, it is a component of a much larger movement.”