tv Sen. John Hickenlooper Discusses Space Policy CSPAN August 11, 2021 6:12pm-7:02pm EDT
c-span.org or listen on the c-span radio app. >> next, a look at space policy and funding for nasa and the space force with colorado senator john hickenlooper, hosted by the washington space business roundtable. this is 45 minutes. sen. hickenlooper: as i have said all the time, i'm over the moon to serve as chairman of the space and science subcommittee on the commerce committee within the senate. as a former geologist, i did have two geological research papers, peer reviewed, published, but i think i'm the only scientist who's published peer reviewed papers. i sat next to mike kelly and he was a scientist, certainly.
one of the most inquisitive people in the senate but he said, i'm an engineer. i perform experiments in space, i don't design them. he and i have agreed to disagree. i would argue he's another scientist in the senate. the senate recently passed the endless frontier act, the u.s. innovation and competition act is what it was called and it strengthens the national science foundation, creates a directorate to help advance u.s. leadership in a number of tech areas including things like quantum computing and artificial intelligence and equally important it creates a strategic plan or relationship between researchers and universities to really expand how we create more stem work force. we've also confirmed dr. eclander as the executive director of the white house
office of science and technology policy. first time it's become a cabinet level position, scientific adviser to the president. i think that's hugely powerful and very important. it's also strengthened nasa leadership by designating bill nelson to run nasa. also pamela melroy as deputy administrator. she'll be first woman to serve in this capacity in the history of the agency. as the chairman of the space and science subcommittee, i'm not just representing colorado although colorado obviously has a strong scientific community led by companies like ball corporation. but also need a whole of government approach to addressing the challenges we face in space and in science. it's nasa -- it's the department
of defense, department of commerce. and i think that by continuing the national space council, the biden administration has made clear that leadership in space continues to be a priority. nasa already has a number of important initiatives going forward. the artemis program to land the first woman on the moon. the mars exploration with perseverance rover and ingenuity helicopter. i have been watching those videos and seeing not just the attention in the senate but the attention across america, really was inspiring. and i think the endless frontier act, the innovation competition act, is going to help foster that excitement in a lot of places. we're also going to explore venus, da vinci and a gateway
for future deep space exploration. let me just finish -- not quite finish -- but success in space requires that stem work force that i mentioned earlier. not just colorado but across the country we see a lot of muscle that hasn't been used and i think engaging young people in space is going to take universities across the country in partnership with nasa. nasa is what inspires many to go into space and i think they require -- those missing require contributions from the whole commercial space sector and we always brag that on a per capita basis, colorado is first or second in terms of the size of our per capita space economy and i think we learn very clearly how much success you can have when you work in partnership with that space economy.
for these reasons, i'm honored to be with washington space business roundtable. did i get that right? yes, space business roundtable. you're constantly creating challenges for people such as myself. thank you for having me and let's go to some questions. >> so i had a couple of questions before i toss it to the audience. you touched on some of the exciting projects within nasa, artemis and perseverance. there's a lot of interest in the space community about whether nasa's authorization will occur this year and given everything competing for the senate's attention, do you think an authorization bill is possible this year or more likely next year? sen. hickenlooper: i spent 20 years as an entrepreneur and small business person so you have to measure my enthusiasm by the fact that i am by nature an
optimism mist but i think that authorization is essential and there is a sense of urgency among a number of us in the senate that this needs to happen this year. that's no guarantee that we're going to get it. i do -- i'm not certain we'll get it in this congress so in this two-year cycle and i think that if we can get it to president's desk this year, it allows us to move faster on all these areas and it's unusual. it's been a long time since we've had a serious global competitor recognized in the same way that china is recognized now and that is providing -- it's a catalyst for both republicans and democrats to say, you know, we can't debate fine points and try to score minor political victories and slow down or obfu fuscate
things that are clear priorities. as i look at that unfolding and president biden is demonstrating a pro-science, pro-space commitment, i think we'll get it on the president's desk by the end of the year. famous last words, but there's no earthly -- pun intended -- no earthly reason why that can't happen. >> wonderful. let me stop for a second and invite the audience to put your questions into the chat. if you could, include your comments and then when i call your name, please take yourself off mute and turn on your videos and you can ask the senator your questions directly. but while those questions are coming in, i had a couple more. given the current political polarization on capitol hill, do you view nasa as an agency that
can still generate bipartisan endorsements? sen. hickenlooper: you know, bill nelson was one of the most collaborative democrats in the senate. he had strong relationships with a number of republicans and i think he has already demonstrates that he's not going to allow partisan bickering to distract people from the importance of the mission. nasa is, without question, the preeminent space agency of any country on earth and we need to protect that and we need to expand on that position and obviously on this call we're talking to the community of space business and i don't have to sing to you the song, the hymnal of all the different reasons of things outside of
what the public normally perceives as space, like g.p.s., for instance. outside of normal space perceptions, so much of our economy is dependent on making sure that we continue to lead in space. and i think the public understands that, they are excited and i think having some of the private sector enterprises, some of our billionaires voyaging out into space, while my people frown of that, i do think it is exciting attention and i think that's something that i want to take advantage of and utilize and i think it's going to benefit nasa. every chance i get and we're going to do some hearings on space here in the next couple of months, every chance i get, i'm going to try to find ways to put
pressure on all the senators to get people excited in their home states about what's in store for nasa and for this country and for space, if we just put our shoulder to the wheel. it's great -- i sit on the -- on the senate floor i sit next to mark kelly. and he is such a great partner. he just feeds me lines on a regular basis of things that need to be emphasized or things people might not have seen and that's part of this. i had a writing teacher when i was in college trying to be a writer -- i failed being creative enough for a writer. but our teacher walked into class one day. he said everything has been said but not everything has been said superbly and even if it had, everything must be said freshly
again and again so we need to find fresh ways of getting people excited about this and the funding will follow the excitement and the excitement is there but we have to make sure it's demonstrated. >> the excitement is certainly there. so let me pass it over to the audience. we have a question from randy. if you could unmute and ask the senator your question. >> senator, thank you for being here and my question is, where do you see our space infrastructure development 10 years from now and what efforts are you in the senate making to shift what i see as a military, industrial complex shift to greater space activity? sen. hickenlooper: that's about a two-hour discussion we'd have to have of what we see in 10 years.
as a former bar owner, restaurant owner, i did learn how to be concise when people were getting ready to pay their bill. we'll try to endeavor that concision. now, i think there's so much more going on beyond the department of defense and what president eisenhower referred to as the military industrial complex, the mill military industrial space complex -- there is so much potential and i hope in 10 years we look out and see space is transformed. every aspect of not just our education and who goes to college and how many study space, or stem, but i think space is already and has the potential to do even more in terms of attracting young people into stem. not necessarily just space.
i have a number of friends that are molecular biologists who first got involved in science because of the race to the moon that president kennedy started. i think that within the innovation and competition act, i still like endless frontier better, but within that bill, there are billions of dollars designated to go out and recruit people into stem and to make sure that they are excited by that. i think space is an essential ingredient in that. when you talk to a lot of high school kids or people maybe not even in high school yet and you see whether they've got that curiosity, which almost all the kids have, but whether it's being oriented towards science
and observing the world around them and figuring out how how to make those observations translate into a better future, kids don't get excited by the normal discussions. even things like crisper and genetic engineering don't capture their imagination the same way space does and i can't tell you how many people in the senate have a fondness for the mission -- our national mission to get more people excited about space because it translates -- it's going to translate into every other industry. all those 10 different programs that the new nsf directorate will focus on, quantum computing, roe v. wade roe v. wade -- artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, they're all tied into space in significant and real ways. >> thank you, senator.
i hope our nation can make a sustained commitment. >> absolutely. you're right. that was part of the focus on the endless frontier act that this is not a one-year commitment, right. this was an eight-year and parts of it a 10-year commitment. we have to make sure we fund it. we made the commitment that we intend to fund it. as anyone who's dealt with nasa -- i've heard many stories -- the first 10 is -- step is all important but not enough. >> thank you. >> i'd like to pass it to our sponsor, deidra, for her questions. >> great, thank you. so senator, i wanted to delve a little bit more on the partnership between nasa and space force and the defense department. there's so much that they do that's complementary and wanted to get your view on that
relationship as well as i noticed there's a question so i may ask it here -- about the u.s. space command relocation from colorado. obviously that's something that i know is very important, is very important to you, a concern to you, but really the higher level of the relationship and the ability for sharing between nasa and space force. >> sen. hickenlooper: sure. obviously colorado has a long-standing and close relationship with the department of defense and the integration of space and now space force into that defense. cheyenne mountain -- a lot of the cybersecurity infrastructure that's built. the air force academy in
colorado springs -- there's a long history of the relationship and integration between space and science and our national defense and we can't overlook it. it's amazing when i go back to colorado and i talk to people and colorado's a relatively space literate state. and i begin to ask people about their -- did they have concerns that our satellite systems could be attacked, that there could be a cyber attack and in some way physically or through a cyber breach, render our satellite systems vulnerable or disable them in some way. it's as if they've never heard of this before. but space now is -- not just g.p.s. you go down the list of all the things that are essential to our
economy, that are tied to space, and there is this dawning awareness that countries like china have the capability to wage an attack in space and we need to be prepared for it. space command, my biggest concern about space command, not obviously as a u.s. senator from colorado, i have a vested interest in supporting things in colorado. but i absolutely believe, whether space command ends up in colorado springs or wherever it ends up, the decision to be made for national security reasons and not political reasons. and i think there is a great deal of evidence that excessive political force was used in that decision making process and that it should be examined and it is
going to be examined and wherever space command is located, wherever its new home is, it's located in colorado springs now for several more years, we need to make sure it's in the best location for the good of this country. for our security and for the other ways that space command techs our economy, our military security, go down the list. i am biased and i've had many discussions but i try to make sure the discussions are not so parochial that i'm just fighting to try to get more jobs. i think that's how we got into this mess. i think it's more important to say what are the objective measures, let's create a process we can all agree to and make sure we keep politics out of military decisions and that's historically what the united states is well known for. maybe not perfect but to a large extent, especially compared to
many other democracies in the world, we have been able to keep our investments by government relatively independent from political forces. >> thank you so much. >> our next question is from jeff foust. if you could unmute yourself. >> good afternoon, senator. the nasa authorization included in the competitiveness bill the senate passed in june included language about the landing system authorizing additional funding and selecting a second company. odge money needs to be appropriated annually and i wanted to check what progress you've seen in discussions with your colleagues about securing that additional funding for h.l.s., either through the regular appropriations process or through something like the jobs and infrastructure package that's being proposed.
>> to be candid, i have not -- the actual appropriations yet, i haven't gotten involved with so i'm the wrong person to ask. now we have been really focused, a, on getting the endless frontier passed and now we're trying to get this bipartisan infrastructure bill passed and i think that's -- that's, for me, a high priority that we do something on a significant level that will is bipartisan and i -- was almost late coming to this meeting because i was in a meeting with a group of republicans and democratic senators haggling how to expand broadband and make sure we get universal coverage in this country in a way that's fair and equitable and if shely -- efficiently using taxpayer dollars. hopefully we'll get this done,
put to bed in a couple of weeks, and as we get to the next budget round, we'll get into those appropriations. almost everything in the endless frontier act is as yet unapropriated. some of it is based on funds being increased so some of the funds are there by precedent but pretty much all of it will have to go through a regular appropriation press. that's not much of an answer. i can get you exactly where those -- if those deliberations have started, where they are and get that to you through this organization. >> ok. let's move on to courtney, she has a question. >> thank you, senator.
i've done business in colorado for a number of years, a number of space companies. those of us who work particularly during your governorship thank you for the support and encouragement you gave not only to the traditional but the newer space companies. we were delighted when you took on this chairmanship. the last administration named the commerce department as the lead for space traffic management. wondering if you support that decision and if so, will your committee work to ensure the department gets its adequate resources, and if not commerce, what other agency do you think might best serve as lead agency? and i ask this because we have more and more satellites being deployed, therefore, the higher probability of conjunctions and disaster and hoping that we'll have a space traffic management lead agency since they've made it clear they don't want to carry on that function any
longer. sen. hickenlooper: another good question. i'll have to make sure when i come back to the space business roundtable that i'll have to account for many more questions. i do think that the commerce is the -- commerce committee and department of commerce is the right place to build this muscle but i also understand they can't do it alone so like so much of space, there has to be some serious collaboration and to a certain extent we've lost that ability. we've lost some of that muscle tone. i think about cybersecurity, we need to have the department of commerce and the defense department and national security council, a list of all the people that are directly affected by cybersecurity, we need to have an ability to orchestrate all the information
that's relevant and make sure that the decisions that are made are happening in a timely manner and no place is that more important than in space. in space we're going to have -- excuse me -- wait a second. in space we're going to have -- things are going to evolve so rapidly that some of our traditional ways of making decisions in government are no longer sufficient. we don't have the time to go back and forth and hash out small nuances when we need to make decisions and i think some of the agencies like commerce that have a stronger track record of making those decisions are a place where that final decision can be made. in the case of space traffic. you can't say space trafficking because that means you're smuggling one part to another.
anyway, obviously that's a -- changing even as we speak. so far, from what i have been able to see, i support it in department of commerce. >> thank you. >> the next question is from steven brody. >> yes, thank you, senator. steve brody from arlington, virginia. like you, i grew up in the philly area. one of my best cheesesteaks is in your home town. that diverse environment infused me as i progressed in my space career with a desire for informed dialogue and seeking consensus and i know those are attributes you very much well represent and have used. talking about china for a second. i'm wondering if you see any way forward to turn what seems to be
the overriding tenor of a space race and i don't think it necessarily has to be that way. i would like to see a lot more collaborative efforts. i know in talking to some chinese officials when i wases in beijing some years ago that they very much respected and honored what we had done during apollo and wished to more join in with those kinds of things as opposed to trying to be seen as trying to catch up and surpass us. so i'm wondering if you see any progress likely, perhaps with your capabilities, in helping us move towards a different tenor, less combative, perhaps, and less confrontational.
sen. hickenlooper: from your lips to god's ear because, as someone who lived through the cold war and saw that type of competition often creates ill advised decisions and i am, i think, like many senators, very concerned about the directions that china has taken over the last few years, the last decade, really. and that some of the aggression they've demonstrated especially in the south china sea and other parts of -- that part of the world, are alarming. and i think that what we need to do and this is why i think president biden is on the right track. we need to put more effort into
our diplomatic relationships and i don't think we want to get sucked into another cold war, either militarily or in space or really anywhere. the world is evolving and i think -- again, we have to have a strong military. we have to, i think we want to make sure that we maintain our role as the dominant space, leader in space. with that said, we have to recognize there's the rest of the world out there and there are other points of view and opinions and that they've got to be assimilated and make sure that that leadership connotes some level of authority. but that authority is only functional based on the willingness of the rest of the world to support america's leadership. i think ultimately -- and this
is what i think we can do. i think biden is unusually appropriate to be doing this, to lead this effort, is that trade agreements and culture agreements and commitments to basic human rights are things that we are going to continue to negotiate and maybe even more intensely than before and find ways in terms of china, that we can isolate them in some way economically if they are belligerent and exhibiting perhaps military aggression to parts of asia, you know, if they are isolated economically, then they will be a little more thoughtful and more careful and at least open to discussion. my observation has always been for as long as i have been
paying attention, is that it's hard to really understand where people are coming from if you don't have unguarded opportunities to talk to them and joe biden has spent over 50 hours talking to xi one-on-one, not including group meetings. sitting there, two people with interpreters, for 50 hours. i think that matters and i'm hopeful that allows them -- when i was first elected mayor of denver, i said i would get all the suburban municipalities to join denver in a light rail, transit initiative. everyone thought it was crazy and denver's only 20% of the -- city and county of denver is 20% of the metropolitan area. there were 34 municipalities.
21 had republican mayors who historically hated denver but i tried to go to their offices, the office of the republican mayors and make a case for why this would help them and how they could be the hero. i didn't need any credit but i was able to avine all the different self interests and we got all 34 mayors to support a tax increase in 2005 to build 122 miles of light rail track. people in the senate look at me like that's crazy, you can't do that. well, i did it by listening. you never persuade something to change their mind about something that matters by telling them why they're wrong or why they're right. you have to hear them and keep asking questions, keep listening, keep working at that and at some point you both change your points of view and you can collaborate. you can only collaborate at the speed of trust. that's what we used to say at the governor's office.
we need to build trust and then focus on productive, constructive collaboration. >> i think we have time for maybe one or two more questions. i'm going to pass it back over to deidra with a question on climate change. >> so much of what you talked about earlier -- or that the administration focus has been on climate change and initiatives to advance climate science. i wanted to get a little bit more from you on nasa's role in that, the investments being made by the administration, nasa, noaa and elsewhere in the community on how we can advance the climate and earth monitoring initiative that would really advance the climate change focus from the white house. sen. hickenlooper: sure. let me say two things. one is that science, you know, i
remember when i first started studying science, one of my teachers in school said that at its best, science is careful observation of the world around us and using those observations to make the world a better place and that has never been more relevant than when we talk about climate. so having facts, real information, careful observations from noaa, from all the monitoring capabilities that we have around the world, and innovating that information, making sure that we find ways to take the complexity of that information and distill it down into decision making facts is crucial and i think we will see funding, more funding, not just from the biden white house, but from the senate and the house, from congress, to make sure we have the capacity to get
accurate information. in terms of climate change, i think the infrastructure bill, the bipartisan infrastructure bill that we're working on right now, has significant investments in transmission, expanding transmission capacity, epi -- enhancing the smart grid capacity, expanding broadband and 5g. there are all kinds of tech and stem investments that will go towards climate change. electric vehicles, both charging stations and electric buses and other mobility carriers. $15 billion for that. i think the thing that i'm happy about which i, again, unrealistically, perhaps, i thought this would be a process where whereby we could end up
with a price on carbon. there are senators admitting climate change is real and we should have greater urgency addressing it and i thought that might happen like a fee in difdend -- dividend, like george schultz proposed 15 years ago, as a way of providing incentives for the invasion we need to address climate change. how are we going to get direct air capture or other forms of carbon sequestration. new types of energy, clean, hydrogen energy. you go down the list of those places that are not where they need to be, without a price on carbon, it's hard to see how we're going to accelerate the innovation necessary to allow us to address climate change in a comprehensive way. i'm not giving up on it. i think there's so many people in the country now that buy into
why this is necessary and i think there are more and more businesses. i think obviously the space business roundtable is a perfect place to start. the more people advertise, the more people talk about we need a price on carbon and there's got to be some sort of global agreement. there's got to be trade consequences if rogue nations don't want to address the issues on the climate, there probably needs to be a tariff or penalty to really make sure everybody's using the same -- is using the same system of measuring and addressing the carbon emissions that are really disrupting not just the weather but the basic ecosystems of our planet. anyway, space is going to be a huge part of that by any measure. >> senator, i think we have time for maybe two more questions.
sen. hickenlooper: they're waving at me. how much time? >> about 10 minutes. sen. hickenlooper: go ahead. >> two more questions. one from a fellow board member, if you could unmute, andy. >> thanks, sally, and thanks, senator. i'm andy bunker with a local rocket company. appreciate you being here and your staff was great to work with setting this up. from the ula side, i echo courtney's comment earlier, we loved working with you and your governor and it's exciting to see you in the senate chairing the space committee. a lot of senators and members have been talking about the
space debris problem this year. appreciate all the work that your bill and endless frontiers act did to that end. anything else your committee is planning to do to address that issue and raise awareness with others that might not be understanding how big of a problem this is right now? sen. hickenlooper: i think the fact that we had it in the bill i think is a big step and i think that it's tied into this whole notion of our vulnerability to hostile activities from another nation state that is active in space. they're all tied together. but certainly i am very hopeful that we've put in place the resources so that we can -- rather than having to learn by a terrible accident and who knows what the consequences could be -- your imagination i'm sure has even worse consequences than
mine does. but this is -- as is always the case, part of human nature, i don't think we're having quite the sense of urgency that we need to. i'm at least trying to get people's attention where i can and i do think -- dr. lander, eric lander, is running the office of science and technology policy. he's 100% behind this and understands why this is so important and having someone like dr. lander in the room now, i think is going to be a great thing for issues like this where perhaps it's not the highest priority for a number of people in congress or other elected officials, local municipalities or county commissioners, but it should be a much higher priority and they should be aware of it. i guess my job is to help make them aware of it but i think he
will make sure that within the meetings in the white house that point is raised loudly. >> thank you, sir. sen. hickenlooper: keep up the good work. >> time for one more. sen. hickenlooper: the last question. >> eric sumner, could you unmute? >> thank you very much and good afternoon. i'm with voyager space located just blocks away from the the one coop brewery in denver, a strategic move for us. you mentioned earlier regarding space force, you didn't want to think parochially on those issues but thinking parochially regarding colorado, colorado is becoming the center of the universe for commercial space
exploration. what can government and industry do together to continue this positive growth? sen. hickenlooper: thank you for locating your company in the right place. appreciate that. we felt that -- because i am intensely parochial but let me be very clear, i do believe that colorado, if it's not the center of commercial space activity now, it soon will be and i think it is the best place. we're closer to mars and venus than any other state in the country in terms of how we observe. anyway, the kidding aside, i think the decisions on location of military assets has to be done in a non-political way. that being said, as a senator from colorado, i am going to pursue opportunities and just as we have done in the past, trying
to make sure that every part of colorado is involved in our space effort and understands that maybe they're just providing components to united launch alliance. whatever their role is, that we're making sure that we're uniting the state in a commitment to, a, the military effort, but also the commercial space effort that i think really in many ways defines all of colorado. you go to grand junction or durango right now, you'll find businesses that are involved in our commercial space efforts and we give them incentives, as the governor and county commissioners provide incentives for them to expand but i am constantly on the lookout, like most senators, like many senators, i like to think that between me and michael bennet, we'll be a little more eagle-eyed but we'll be on the
lookout to figure out how we can stimulate all the innovation that colorado already demonstrates in terms of space, how can we stimulate that even further. if you have any ideas or see somewhere we should focus our attention, sing out. i'm easy to get a hold of. >> most certainly will. your staff has been outstanding working with us. sen. hickenlooper: thank you. i apologize for having to race off. it's the story of my life. >> before you do, i want to thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to us. clearly with the number of questions we received, i'm speaking on behalf of the entire audience in saying it was a fascinating discussion. thank you so much. sen. hickenlooper: thank you, sally, thank you, deidra, thank you, everybody. >> thank you, sir. announcer: each night this week at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span, we're featuring cabinet
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