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Kids confront Feinstein over Green New Deal
A group of young activists supporting legislation for a "Green New Deal" confronted Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Friday in a video released on social media.
In the video, a group of middle and high school students present the senator with a letter asking her to support the legislation supported by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).
Feinstein responds by telling the activists that "we have our own Green New Deal," while rebuking the young activists for what she called a "my way or the highway" attitude.
"You know what's interesting about this group is that I've been doing this for 30 years. I know what I'm doing," the California senator says in the edited clip. "You come in here and you say, 'it has to be my way or the highway.' I don't respond to that."
"I've gotten elected, I just ran," she added. "I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality. And I know what I'm doing. So you know, maybe people should listen a little bit."
The video was released by the Sunrise Movement, an activist group that was part of a protest in the office of then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in November. Ocasio-Cortez joined in that protest, which was celebrated by environmental activists but frowned upon by some congressional Democrats.
Feinstein issued a statement Friday night saying that the meeting with young activists was "brief" but they had "a spirited discussion."
"I want the children to know they were heard loud and clear. I have been and remain committed to doing everything I can to enact real, meaningful climate change legislation," she said in the statement.
Feinstein said she gave the group "my draft resolution that provides specific responses to the climate change crisis, which I plan to introduce soon."
"I always welcome the opportunity to hear from Californians who feel passionately about this issue and it remains a top priority of mine," she added.
Reaction to the incident on social media was mixed, with a number of Democrats and liberal groups decrying the senator's comments in the video.
"Elected representatives should work on behalf of the next generation, not disparage them, especially on an issue that is going to have much more profound consequences for young people," tweeted former Obama deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.
The progressive activist group MoveOn also called Feinstein's behavior "rude, dismissive, and out of touch."
Conservative commentators, including The Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro, responded differently, with Shapiro tweeting: "WTF I love Dianne Feinstein now."
Other Democratic senators have expressed confusion or unease about the Green New Deal, which they have kept at arm's length despite the advocacy of some progressives.
Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said Wednesday that after he read the Green New Deal resolution he asked a key sponsor, "What in the heck is this?"
The resolution unveiled earlier this month is nonbinding but backs pursuing net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is expected to force a vote on the resolution, which members of the GOP believe could help divide Democrats and provide fodder against the several Democratic senators running for president in 2020.
Updated: 9 p.m.