Madison’s comments come as Democrats, who hold the majority in both chambers of Congress and control the White House, have been pressured to pass legislation on voting rights reform. But Senate Republicans, who hold 50 seats in the chamber, have repeatedly blocked the legislation, and Democrats on the left have increasingly called on their party’s senators to gut the Senate’s filibuster rule requiring 60 votes to advance most legislation.
“As a political protest, I am beginning a hunger strike today by abstaining from eating any solid food until Congress passes, and President Biden signs, the Freedom to Vote Act or the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” he said at the time.
The final tally was 50 to 49 with GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voting with Democrats in favor. At least 10 Republicans would have needed to join with all 50 members of the Senate Democratic caucus for the legislation to advance.
Madison said when announcing the strike that he is more concerned about the future of his children and grandchildren rather 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.