Washington, DC – Dating back to the 19th century, the U.S. Senate has often been referred to as “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” Building upon that tradition of often fierce partisan debate on pressing issues facing the nation, a diverse new coalition—the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate—is launching a series of Oxford-style debates between leading U.S. senators.
The goal of The Senate Project debate series is to reintroduce the culture of seeking common ground and consensus that has been the essence of the Senate since it was conceived in 1789. We hope it will inspire policymakers to not only make the case for their points of view, but to then work towards the example set by Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator Orrin Hatch for bipartisan bridge-building. In describing their relationship, Senator Hatch once said “When we did agree, everyone turned to get out of the way. They thought if Kennedy and Hatch can get it together, it must be good.” And Senator Kennedy once told reporters, “If you build upon that kind of understanding and respect, you can get a lot of things done.” While this debate series will showcase sharp political disagreements, it will also foster areas of common purpose moving forward.
The Senate Project kicks off at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, June 13, with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) engaging in a one-hour policy debate. The specific topic(s) will be announced one week prior.
The debate, moderated by FOX News Channel’s Bret Baier, will be held in the Kennedy Institute’s full-size replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber and streamed on FOX Nation. The second debate, hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, will be held in July at George Washington University, carried live and on demand across C-SPAN platforms, including streamed on C-SPAN Now. A third debate will be held by the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation in Utah this fall.
In a time of deep political polarization in America—and a 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate—the goal of The Senate Project is for the public to hear leading senators from competing ends of the political spectrum. The Oxford-style format of the 60 minute debates will allow senators to engage in extended, thoughtful, wide-ranging debate while exploring areas of constructive disagreement and searching for the bipartisan compromise that has been a hallmark of the Senate for more than two centuries.
The Kennedy Institute provides civic education to schools throughout Massachusetts and has won the prestigious Annenberg Award for the quality of its programs. “We initiated this idea in response to what is the most serious division in this country in decades,” said Bruce A. Percelay, chairman of the board of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. “It is our hope that this effort will help demonstrate that compromise in the U.S. Senate is actually possible.”
“The Senate Project is a core component of the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation’s central mission: to reinvigorate the civic discourse,” said Hatch Foundation Executive Director Matt Sandgren. “All too often, network programming—whether on television or online—sows division and contempt among viewers by exaggerating the differences between us. But The Senate Project seeks to do the exact opposite. It seeks to forge compromise and consensus while still respecting substantive disagreements that exist between the two parties. Our hope is to show that bipartisanship and vigorous debate can coexist—and that civility is still possible, even in today’s hyperpolarized world.”
“Our democracy rests on the ability to engage in serious issues and resolve legitimate differences. The Senate Project highlights the creativity and courage required to govern a divided nation,” said BPC President Jason Grumet.
Collectively, these three organizations look forward to collaborating with FOX News and its streaming service to begin this important series of debates.
“We are pleased to partner with the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute to present this full debate without interruption to our FOX Nation subscribers. FOX News Media is home to the most politically diverse audience in cable news and The Senate Project’s mission of providing the public with access to thoughtful, extensive debates from all sides of the political spectrum is well-suited for our viewers,” said Jay Wallace, president and executive editor of FOX News Media.
About the Bipartisan Policy Center
The Bipartisan Policy Center is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that actively fosters bipartisanship by combining the best ideas from both parties to promote health, security, and opportunity for all Americans. Our policy solutions are the product of informed deliberations by former elected and appointed officials, business and labor leaders, and academics and advocates who represent both sides of the political spectrum. BPC prioritizes one thing above all else: getting things done. Learn more at https://bipartisanpolicy.org.
About the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation
Civility and solutions—these are the twin pillars of the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation. They are the ideals that underpinned the senator’s service and that guide the organization’s mission today. The foundation seeks to engender greater civic participation and understanding, to facilitate bipartisan dialogue, and to foster commonsense solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems by convening the greatest minds in American public life for high-level discussions on the public policy challenges of the day. Learn more at orrinhatchfoundation.org.
About the Edward M. Kennedy Institute
The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities. Learn more via www.emkinstitute.org.
Bipartisan Policy Center: Steve Scully, SVP, 202.218.6789, [email protected]
Edward M. Kennedy Institute: Bruce A. Percelay, Board Chair, [email protected]
FOX News Media: Irena Briganti, Senior EVP, Corporate Communications, 212.301.3608, [email protected]
Orrin G. Hatch Foundation: 202.350.0515, [email protected]