By MARIAM KHAN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The House honored the late Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis with a moving moment of silence on the House floor on Monday afternoon.
“The chair asks all those present in the chamber, as well as members and staff throughout the Capitol and all who loved John Lewis wherever you are, rise for a moment of silence in remembrance of the conscience of the Congress, the honorable John Lewis,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor.
Shortly after the moment of silence concluded, the chamber spontaneously erupted in a round of applause. Several members were seen wiping tears from their eyes as they paid tribute to their late colleague.
The chamber unanimously passed a resolution honoring Lewis, appointing a congressional delegation to attend his funeral and adjourning the chamber for the day as a further mark of respect for Lewis.
“We are all deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague. All of us who served with John know that he always worked on the side of the angels. Now he is with them. May he rest in peace,” Pelosi said in a letter addressed to colleagues earlier on Monday.
Known as the “conscience of the U.S. Congress,” Lewis spent over three decades in the House of Representatives after rising as a leader of the 1960s civil rights movement.
Lewis died on Friday at the age of 80. He passed seven months after a routine medical visit revealed that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus confirmed the news of his death late Friday night.
In her letter to colleagues, Pelosi said the Lewis family will announce plans for “John’s farewell” later in the week, after services for the Rev. C.T. Vivian, another prominent civil rights icon who also died last week, have concluded.
Pelosi said she last spoke to Lewis on Thursday, one day before he died.
“The last conversation I had with him was on Thursday. And that was a sad one. I didn’t know it was the last. But I had had some conversations with him, but we never talked about his dying until — until that day. Talked about — he always said he wanted to go home. He was going home to heaven,” Pelsoi said during an interview with CBS This Morning.
House members are now considering ways to honor Lewis’ legacy.
Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said on ABC’s This Week Sunday that Congress should pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act.
“I know that if he was still with us, he would be leading that fight,” Bass said of the Georgia congressman.
In December, House Democrats passed the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, which would restore certain key protections of the 1965 Voting Rights Act against racial discrimination that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013.
“What we have to do is live up to his legacy. We need to continue that fight for social justice. And again, the first thing we need to do is to pass the voting rights act and get it signed,” Bass told ABC’s This Week Co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
“I have said this before, and I will say it again. The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy,” Lewis said in a statement supporting the bill in 2019.
The Republican-led Senate has not picked up the bill for consideration.
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