A group senators have also demanded Senate Republicans bring the measure to a vote after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tabled legislation in 2019.
Mr Lewis was instrumental in the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, landmark federal legislation barring racial discrimination at the polls.
A 2013 US Supreme Court decision invalidated key provisions in the law, which prohibited states with histories of racial discrimination from changing their election laws without first receiving federal approval.
The Senate’s John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act has 48 cosponsors, including every Democrat, two independents who caucus with Democrats, and Republican senator Lisa Murkowski.
That measure “would go far in restoring the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and curtailing some of the worst forms of voter suppression”, according to the letter. “We urge you to promptly hold a hearing and a markup to discuss, debate, and hopefully move this vital legislation out of committee.”
Mr McConnell refused to hold hearings on the House measure after its passage in December.
That chamber “already done its part by passing this legislation this past December”, the letter says. “Now the Senate must do its job, and that begins here in the storied Senate judiciary committee. We cannot claim to honour the life of John Lewis if we refuse to carry on his life’s work.”
Mr McConnell has dismissed that voter suppression remains an issue, claiming in the Wall Street Journal that it’s “nonsense” and that there is “very little tangible evidence” that it even exists.
While outright suppression tactics like poll taxes and literacy tests no longer remain in the US, states have imposed voter ID laws, gerrymandered districts, purged voter rolls and moved or closed polling locations, among other methods that aim to manipulate election outcomes while disproportionately impacting voters of colour, according to civil rights groups.
Several states have closed nearly 1,200 polling places following the 2013 Supreme Court ruling.
John Lewis: Life in pictures
John Lewis: Life in pictures
1/10 ”If not us, then who? If not now, then when?
John Lewis poses under a quote of his that is embossed in the Civil Rights Room in Nashville Public Library on 18 November 2016
John Lewis (5th from left), Martin Luther King (4th from left) and other civil rights leaders meet with President John F Kennedy at the White House on 28 August 1963
John Lewis (Front, 3rd from left) leads the Selma March alongside Martin Luther King (Front, right) and other religious and civil rights figures in March, 1965
US state troopers beat John Lewis, then-chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the Selma March on 7 March 1965. Lewis suffered a fractured skull
Atlanta councilman John Lewis holds the March 1965 issue of Life Magazine, which features a photograph of the Selma March, on 7 August 1986
John Lewis, (L) and his wife, Lillian lead a march of supporters to a victory party after he wins a seat in congress, representing the state of Georgia, on 3 September 1986
President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton present the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights John Lewis in Washington on 10 December 1998
President Barack Obama presents John Lewis with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest civilian honours in the US, in a ceremony at the White House on 15 February 2011
John Lewis speaks in a debate on the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump in the House of Representatives on 18 December 2019
Major figures of the civil rights movement ((left to right) John Lewis, Whitney Young, Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, James Farmer and Roy Wilkins meet in Roosevelt Hotel in New York to organise the March on Washington in March 1963
Voting rights advocates fear that threats to absentee or mail-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic could significantly undermine November’s crucial presidential election.
Mr McConnell was among elected officials who eulogised the late congressman in written tributes, praising Mr Lewis as “a pioneering civil rights leader who put his life on the line to fight racism, promote equal rights, and bring our nation into greater alignment with its founding principles”.
Police fractured Mr Lewis’ skull on “Bloody Sunday” in 1965, when civil rights marchers were met by brutal Alabama State Police on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Mr Lewis was arrested at least 45 times throughout his life in defence of the rights he sought to protect.
He did not live to see the restoration of the act for which he ”gave a little blood”, he often would say. Once the youngest among giants of the civil rights movement in the 1960s alongside Martin Luther King Jr, and the youngest person to address a massive crowd during the March on Washington, he died at age 80 following a cancer diagnosis.
Mr Lewis would return to the bridge throughout his life to recognise the anniversary of the event. His body made one final journey across the bridge on 26 July during a funerary procession.
His body is currently lying in state at the US Capitol.
House Majority Whip James Clyburn said that that “if they so celebrate the heroism of this man, then let’s go to work and pass that bill”.
He told CNN on 19 July that Donald Trump and other Republicans who dismissed the initial bill before paying their respects to the civil rights leader should seek the passage of the bill in his honour.
“Words maybe powerful, but deeds are lasting,” he said.
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