Senators Portman and Murphy to headline next Senate Project debate

Today, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate announced the second in a new series of Oxford-style debates between leading U.S. Senators.

On Monday, August 1, at 7:30 p.m. EDT, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) will headline a one-hour debate at George Washington University’s Jack Morton Auditorium carried live and on demand across the C-SPAN platforms, including streamed on C-SPAN Now. CBS News congressional correspondent Nikole Killion will moderate.

“Over the last year, the Senate has made notable progress on several key issues, including bipartisan laws to strengthen our national infrastructure and combat gun violence, the kind of progress that can only be made through meaningful give and take and hard work to find common ground,” said Sen. Rob Portman. “I have appreciated working with Senator Murphy on a number of important issues, and I want to thank the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for providing us a forum to engage in a thoughtful, policy-centered discussion on how to move our country forward and improve the lives of the American people.”

“The Senate purports to be the world’s greatest deliberative body, and yet too often, we respond to the most important issues facing Americans with inaction,” said Sen. Chris Murphy. “This place can’t function unless Democrats and Republicans come out of their respective corners to hammer out our differences and get something done – something we proved with the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. Senator Portman has been an important legislative partner in the Senate, and I look forward to our lively discussion next month.

The GW event follows a June 13 kickoff debate between Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) inside the Kennedy Institute’s replica U.S. Senate chamber in Boston that was broadcast live on FOX Nation. Plans are currently underway to finalize the date for a third Senate Project debate in Utah.

”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. 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 debate allows senators to engage in extended, thoughtful, wide-ranging debate while exploring areas of constructive disagreement and searching for bipartisan compromise.

“The Senate Project’s first matchup between Senators Graham and Sanders engendered lively discussion on the most pressing policy topics of the day,” said Hatch Foundation Executive Director Matt Sandgren. “We now have a strong proof of concept for this new debate format, and we are looking to capitalize on this success with the next debate between Senators Portman and Murphy. They are policy leaders who are well respected by their colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I am confident that their discussion will draw out differences between the two parties but will also yield bipartisan areas of agreement on the issues that matter most to American families.”

“I can think of no better pairing for next month’s Senate Project debate than Senators Portman and Murphy,” said Hatch Foundation Chair Scott Anderson. “Throughout their public service, both men have shown a commitment to standing by civility without standing down on their principles. This is the precise dynamic we are looking for in our effort to reinvigorate the public discourse.” 

“The need to bridge the divide in our country has never been greater. The Senate Project represents a step towards restoring a spirit of compromise and consensus for the good of the American people,’’ said Kennedy Institute Board Chair Bruce A. Percelay. “After the tremendous success and nationwide attention for our inaugural Senate Project debate at the Kennedy Institute featuring Senator Sanders and Senator Graham, we’re excited to see the momentum continue with this next debate in Washington and look forward to welcoming Senators back to the Kennedy Institute following our third Senate Project debate at the Hatch Center.”

“The recent passage of the Safer Communities Act shows that bipartisanship is not dead, in fact it is the only way to make lasting policy change” said BPC President Jason Grumet. “The signature accomplishments in the 117th Congress – infrastructure and gun violence – are the result of detailed, bipartisan negotiation. This debate series, and the two Senators in our next debate, highlight the creativity and courage required to govern a divided nation, something the two are both familiar with. Sens. Murphy and Portman are two of our nation’s top thought leaders and we’re looking forward to hearing spirited exchanges that can lead to future areas of consensus.”