Senators Chris Coons and Marco Rubio to face off in Senate Project debate, moderated by CBS News’ Ed O’Keefe

The fourth installment of The Senate Project debate series — which brings together senators from different ends of the political spectrum for civil, substantive discussion and debate aimed at finding potential areas of bipartisan compromise and common ground — will feature Senators Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, and Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. 

The debate will be moderated by CBS News’ senior White House and political correspondent Ed O’Keefe. 

Viewers can watch The Senate Project debate on the CBS News app, the CBS News YouTube channel or via beginning at 6:40 p.m. on Sept. 18. The debate will be held at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

The Senate Project is a partnership between the Bipartisan Policy Center, the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, and the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate.

“It’s a pleasure to participate in The Senate Project debate series. I look forward to debating Senator Rubio and having the opportunity to discuss a number of issues, including China and where we can find bipartisan common ground,” Sen. Coons said in a news release. 

“America remains the greatest country in the history of the world, but everyone knows we face some serious challenges — challenges that cannot be solved by talking points and soundbites,” said Sen. Rubio. “Republicans and Democrats will never agree on every problem or every solution, but that should not prevent us from working together to get things done where we can for the American people. That is especially true when it comes to issues like China’s continued assault on our economy, communities, and national security.” 

Senators Chris Coons and Marco Rubio
Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), left, and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), right.

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“The Senate is the world’s greatest deliberative body, but in recent years the fierce debate, followed by searching for common ground has often been missing,” said former senator and Bipartisan Policy Center co-founder Tom Daschle. “After making that point several years ago, I could not be more thrilled with The Senate Project series, which seeks a thoughtful debate and honest discussion on some of America’s leading issues, and when possible, areas of comity.  I look forward to this fourth in a series of debates with two respected members of the United States Senate.”

The Senate Project and its founding partners say their approach is inspired by the political bridge-building of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, and the late Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, who worked through party and political differences to forge consensus on landmark healthcare reform legislation and other bipartisan bills. 

“Too often, there is more attention on what divides the nation than on what unites it. The Senate Project is intended to show the American people that civil discourse, compromise, and bipartisanship are possible,” said Bruce A. Percelay, chairman of the board of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute. 

“By facilitating these robust discussions between senators from different backgrounds and perspectives, we hope to inspire a new generation of lawmakers to prioritize collaboration and the common good over partisan divide,” said Matt Sandgren, executive director of the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation. 

Rubio, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010, is the vice chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence; ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues; and a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Committee on Foreign Relations, and Special Committee on Aging.

Coons, who won his Senate seat in a 2010 special election, is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs and the Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, and a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, and Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He is also chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics.

You can learn more about The Senate Project debate series at

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