Sanders, Graham face off in Senate Project debate

Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 3:37 PM EDT
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BOSTON (WCAX) - The U.S. Senate has been called the world’s greatest deliberative body, where elected leaders fiercely debate the issues with the goal of finding common ground. A series of debates known as the Senate Project aims to reintroduce the notion of consensus building.

Monday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took part in the first such debate, locking horns with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham as the two debated some of the most pressing issues facing the country.

The Senate Project debate series kicked off with a handshake and a coin flip, and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Lindsey Graham made their opening statements.

“The working class and the middle class of this country are in serious trouble,” said Sanders, I-Vermont.

“Things are tough but they’re going to get better, right? And socialism is not the answer to all these problems,” said Graham, R-South Carolina.

At the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston on a replica of the Senate floor, top-ranking members of the budget committee shared their contrasting visions for the country.

“We have to end a very unfair tax system in which billionaires, in a given year, don’t pay a nickel in federal taxes,” Sanders said.

“The policies that are being pursued by my Democratic colleagues are not working. The average American is in a world of hurt,” Graham said.

The debate series was launched by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate.

Hatch and Kennedy, a staunch conservative and a liberal stalwart respectively, came together during their careers to hammer out the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

“They fought like tigers but they could work together,” Graham said.

In an election year, debate organizers hope these discussions help an evenly divided Senate move past partisanship and live up to its reputation as the greatest deliberative body in the world.

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.

A third debate will be held by the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation in Utah this fall.

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