A growing number of House Democrats may become especially cranky over the next few weeks. And it’s not just because the government might shut down. At least 25 members of the House of Representatives have committed to take part in a “relay fast” in protest to the House Republican’s budget proposal that would include cuts to aid for those living in poverty.
The HungerFast.org relay fast, in which each member agrees not to eat for a day at a time, was first announced on March 28 by the Rev. Jim Wallis, president and CEO of Sojourners; former Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, who is also former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations food program; the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World; and Ritu Sharma, president of Women Thrive Worldwide.
The protest relay began in Congress on Thursday, with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., grabbing the baton.
“I am pleased to be joining this Hunger Fast coalition to raise awareness on the critical issue of eradicating poverty and hunger here in our own country,” Lee said in a statement. “I have always believed that budgets reflect who we are and what we believe in, and the budget that was unveiled this week an attack on low- and middle-income people. This is about the choices that we face in crafting our budget. Do we stand for unpaid-for tax cuts for millionaires or protecting the most vulnerable populations so that no one in our country goes to bed hungry?”
Lee's office said that at least 25 lawmakers are committed to fasting, and are hopeful for more. Right now, the list includes Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif.; Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.; Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill.; Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass.; Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo.; and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.
McGovern, who is part of the House Hunger Caucus, will be fasting on Sunday. He says this is about trying to “reverse a trend in Draconian cuts that impact the wellbeing of poor people.”
“We have the resources, we just need the political will,” he told National Journal. “Hopefully this will get people enthusiastic, or at least shame them into doing the right thing.”