House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn on Sunday said the best way for President Donald Trump and Senate leadership to honor late Congressman John Lewis' life is to pass a bill in his name that would restore part of the Voting Rights Act.
"I think that Trump and the Senate leadership, Mitch McConnell, by their deeds if they so celebrate the heroism of this man, then let's go to work and pass that bill because it's laid out the way the Supreme Court asked us to lay it out," the South Carolina Democrat and friend of Lewis told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of The Union." "And if the President were to sign that, then I think that's what we would do to honor John. It should be the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020. That's the way to do it. Words may be powerful, but deeds are lasting."
Lewis, a Democrat who served as the US representative for Georgia's 5th Congressional District for more than three decades, died Friday at age 80 after a six-month battle with cancer.
The son of sharecroppers, Lewis was a mantle of the civil rights movement and pushed for voting rights. At 25 years old, he helped lead a march for voting rights on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965. On the that day, which became known as "Bloody Sunday," he and other marchers were brutally attacked by police who fractured his skull. Images from that day shocked the nation and galvanized support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
McConnell has refused to bring up for a vote legislation that would restore a key part of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013. The House passed the measure in December with just one Republican vote. Meanwhile, Trump routinely tweets false information about mail-in voting as Republicans back restrictive voter identification laws around the country.
Trump tweeted on Saturday that he was "saddened to hear" about Lewis' death. He also ordered American flags to be flown at half-staff on Saturday "as a mark of respect for the memory and longstanding public service" of Lewis.
Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat, echoed Clyburn's sentiments on passing the voting legislation to honor Lewis during a separate interview with Tapper on Sunday and criticized the President's divisive rhetoric.
"I was hoping the President would not even tweet yesterday about John Lewis. At this point we don't need anybody's sympathies or tweets. What we need is action," Pressley said. "If you really want to honor the life of John Lewis, you don't do things like gut the fair housing laws. You don't sow the seeds of division. And you don't delay bringing the Voting Rights Advancement Act named after John Lewis to the floor. And that should be brought to the floor immediately."