South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and leftist Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will square off in the first of a new series of televised policy debates.
The debate between Graham and Sanders will take place on June 13, in a full-scale replica of the Senate floor at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston. It will also be televised, streaming on Fox News’ “Fox Nation” streaming platform, and hosted by anchor Bret Baier. The debate is the first of three scheduled over the course of the summer and fall as a joint project between the Edward M. Kennedy Institute, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, and the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“Dating back to the 19th century, the U.S. Senate has often been referred to as ‘the world’s greatest deliberative body,’” the groups said in a joint statement Wednesday announcing the series. “Building upon that tradition of often fierce partisan debate on pressing issues facing the nation, a diverse new coalition—the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, and the Bipartisan Policy Center—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 compromise that has been the essence of the Senate since it was conceived in 1789 and to inspire policymakers to work towards the example set by Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Ted Kennedy for bipartisan bridge-building,” the statement continued. “While this debate series will showcase sharp political disagreements, it will also foster areas of common purpose moving forward.”
The Hill reported that the project was the brainchild of former Democratic South Dakota Senator and Majority Leader Tom Daschle. The outlet reported that Daschle is “hoping to rekindle the Senate’s tradition of debate and collegiality,” which Senators believe has been lost in recent years.
“Sen. Daschle was the catalyst,” Bipartisan Policy Center President Jason Grumet said, according to The Hill. “He is on the board of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. He is also one of the founders of BPC. We’ve all been lamenting the loss of the constructive collision of ideas that has long been the basis of effective democracy.”
Former Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, who is on the Edward Kennedy Institute’s board of directors, also credited former Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd for helping set up the debate series.
The debate between Graham and Sanders will be one hour long, and the topics will be announced one week in advance. The second debate, which will be hosted by the BPC, will be held on the campus of George Washington University in July, available live and on demand on C-SPAN’s television and streaming platforms.
A third debate, hosted by the Orrin Hatch Foundation, will be held in Utah later this fall. All of the debates are expected to be Oxford-style debates, where the two sides issue long, in-depth statements on a single question, then issue rebuttals to one another.
The organizations say that this style of debate will “[explore] areas of constructive disagreement and searching for the bipartisan compromise that has been a hallmark of the Senate for more than two centuries.”