HYANNIS PORT, Mass., June 5, 2023–A bipartisan group of 10 former United States senators – five Democrats and five Republicans – gathered this past weekend at the historic Kennedy Family home in Hyannis Port, Mass. for three days of conversation about how the nation’s current political climate is negatively impacting today’s Senate. They also discussed ways to expand bipartisan cooperation on legislative solutions to major issues facing the country.
The Friday-through-Sunday gathering was organized by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston and the McCain Institute, a nonpartisan organization inspired by the late Senator John McCain and his family’s dedication to public service, which is based in Washington and a part of Arizona State University.
Supporting democracy, promoting civil discourse on major issues of the day, and educating and inspiring students to engage in the civic life of their communities and country are top priorities for both institutes. The Hyannis Port house that was President John F. Kennedy’s “summer White House” and later Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s residence is now owned and maintained by the Kennedy Institute and used for gatherings that advance the institute’s mission. Participating in the first of what is intended to be a series of “Hyannis Port Summits” were the following former senators, listed with their state and party affiliation: • Barbara Boxer, D-California • Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia • Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota • Russ Feingold, D-Wisconsin • Cory Gardner, R-Colorado • Heidi Heitkamp, D-North Dakota • Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas • Mel Martinez, R-Florida • Ben Nelson, D-Nebraska • Gordon Smith, R-Oregon Kennedy Institute CEO Adam G. Hinds said: “This was a rare meeting to discuss how today’s political division affects the US Senate. This moment calls for more people to be willing to listen to others from different parties and different regions of the country. I am grateful for the leadership demonstrated by these Senators.’’
McCain Institute Executive Director Dr. Evelyn Farkas said: “Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy were passionate, committed political fighters who often found themselves on opposite sides of issues, but proved themselves eager to work ‘across the aisle’ to address major problems facing all Americans. In his last speech on the U.S. Senate floor, Senator McCain called for a return to ‘regular order’ in the institution he held most dear. It’s fitting that the namesake institutes of Senators McCain and Kennedy would partner to bring leading Republicans and Democrats together to brainstorm how to create a less polarized, more civil, more productive America.”
The Kennedy Institute and McCain Institute will be working with the Summit participants in coming days to explore a potential future joint communication by the group and to organize additional future Hyannis Port Summits with former and potentially current U.S. Senators as well.
About the Kennedy Institute
The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities. The Institute is a co-sponsor, alongside the Bipartisan Policy Center and the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation, of The Senate Project, a debate series that seeks to reintroduce the culture of seeking common ground and consensus that has been the essence of the Senate since it was conceived in 1789. Learn more via www.emkinstitute.org.
About the McCain Institute at Arizona State University
The McCain Institute is a nonpartisan organization inspired by Senator John McCain and his family’s dedication to public service. We are part of Arizona State University and based in Washington, D.C. Our programs advance democracy and human rights, empower character-driven leaders, combat human trafficking, and prevent targeted violence. Our unique power to convene leaders across the global political spectrum enables us to make a real impact on the world’s most pressing challenges. Our goal is action, not talk, and like Senator McCain, we are fighting to create a free, safe, and just world for all.