Sirius XM radio host Joe Madison is announcing the end of his hunger strike after 74 days of protest in order to bring awareness to voting rights legislation.
“After 74 days, I have made the difficult choice to end my hunger strike for voting rights,” Madison tweeted on Thursday (January 20).
The news comes after Senate Democrats failed to change rules on the filibuster in order to pass a voting rights bill. Senate Republicans blocked Democrats from moving forward with the legislation as Dems failed to get 50 votes to change the Senate rules to move forward with the legislation with a simple majority.
“I realized, do I continue the hunger strike or do I end the hunger strike? And I made a note to myself that I’m ending the hunger strike,” Madison said on his radio program on Thursday. “That’s the announcement – as of today.”
He added: “People will ask, ‘Was the 70+ days of my hunger strike worth the effort?’ The answer is, yes. Today an entire generation now knows more about the Senate filibuster. They now know more about how their vote or their votes are. They now know the major differences between Republicans and Democrats.
“They now know that our democracy is fragile,” Madison continued. “They also now know that just as how food is essential to maintaining life, the right to vote is essential to maintaining our democracy.”
Last month, Madison revealed that he had lost 25 pounds from his hunger strike during an interview with Sway in the Morning.
The acclaimed host of SiriusXM Urban View originally announced in November that he was going on a hunger strike via his website in reaction to Senate Republicans blocking the beginning of debate on a voting rights act named after late civil rights icon and congressman John Lewis last week.
“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,” Madison said. “And I repeat, just as food is necessary to sustain life, the right to vote is necessary to sustain democracy.”
The bill gained the support of Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, but didn’t reach the 60 votes it needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.
“It is what drives me and inspires me,” Madison told his listeners on November 8. “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.”
He added: “I am here to say, at some point we’ve got to change these moments into movements. 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.”
Democrats Manchin and Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema ultimately ended up voting against changing the Senate’s filibuster rules.