With the nation gripped in a partisan divide, a coalition that includes Dorchester's Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is launching a series of Oxford-style debates, starting with a one-hour engagement on June 13 featuring Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
The Bipartisan Policy Center and the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation are joining the Kennedy Institute in launching The Senate Project. The first installment, to be held in the institute's full-size replica of the U.S. Senate Chamber, will be moderated by FOX News Channel's Bret Baier, and streamed on FOX Nation.
The second debate, hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, will be held in July at George Washington University and carried live and on demand across C-SPAN platforms. The Orrin G. Hatch Foundation in Utah will hold a third debate this fall.
According to organizers, they expect the debates will highlight political disagreements but the goal is "to reint roduce the culture of seeking common ground and consensus," and encourage the type of bipartisan work that Kennedy and Hatch engaged in.
"We initiated this idea in response to what is the most serious division in this country in decades," said Bruce Percelay, chairman of the board of the Kennedy Institute. "It is our hope that this effort will help demonstrate that compromise in the U.S. Senate is actually possible."
Debate topics will be announced one week prior to each debate. The debate series was announced in the wake of horrific mass shootings in a Buffalo, N.Y. supermarket on May 14 and on Tuesday at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. Elected officials on the left and the right disagree over policy responses that might reduce gun violence.