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Feinstein: 'Anybody with a cell phone in their hand can get you on international news'

Feinstein: 'Anybody with a cell phone in their hand can get you on international news'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Whitehouse says Democratic caucus will decide future of Judiciary Committee MORE (D-Calif.) is walking back comments she made before child climate protesters that were caught on video over the weekend and went viral, saying she wasn’t aware she was being filmed.

“I don’t understand. You know what somebody said to me — you know I didn’t see any of this — they said that anybody with a cell phone in their hand can get you on international news in two minutes. I never knew that,” Feinstein said Tuesday afternoon.

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Referencing the heated exchange about the "Green New Deal" resolution with a group of children and one parent at her congressional office in California, which was quickly criticized as condescending, Feinstein said she is “pro-moving on global warming.”

“I believe it’s the number one problem facing the planet and we have very limited time,” she said Wednesday.

The lawmaker said she plans to push her own resolution soon that focuses on the science.

“I’d rather do it from the science point of view on what is happening to us. I come from a state of 32 million people. ... We’ve lost 15,000 homes and 4,000 businesses to forest fires this year alone, the worst fire year in history, so we are really beginning to see the impacts of global warming,” she said. “I want to concentrate much more on what the science is saying and what is happening out there with the glaciers melting."

A draft of her plan released last week, which Feinstein has since said was done in error, would focus on using a carbon tax to reduce climate-warming emissions.

She has been sharply criticized after video of her interaction with the climate change protesters went online.

"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."

She said she plans to vote “present” when the Green New Deal resolution comes up for a Senate vote before the August recess.

Asked if her vote would divide the Democratic Party over the Green New Deal, Feinstein said no, adding that the resolution sponsored by Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyUS national security policy in the 117th Congress and a new administration OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden eyes new leadership at troubled public lands agency | House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally | Trump administration pushes for rollback of Arctic offshore drilling regulations House progressives tout their growing numbers in the chamber at climate rally MORE (D-Mass.) and championed in the House by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Trump will soon be out of office — but polarization isn't going anywhere Trump tweets Thanksgiving criticism of NFL QBs for kneeling MORE (D-N.Y.) was “too much” and too “political.”

“It does other things. It’s free college, It’s free medical care. That’s not global warming,” she said of the resolution that aims to get the country to 100 percent renewable energy use by 2030 and jump-start green job creation.

“I took a look at it and I said, that’s too much.”

She added: “I thought it was political ... Global warming should not be political, it should be factual based on what’s happening. The science based on the time in which it’s happening.”

A statement released by Ocasio-Cortez's spokesperson Tuesday night said Democrats must be bold in seizing the Green New Deal.

"We must stop equating defeatism with pragmatism — being cynical with being reasonable. There is nothing reasonable or pragmatic in saying that the U.S. cannot reverse climate change or that we cannot solve income and wealth inequality. In order for the Democratic Party to take back the Senate and the White House, we must be a party with vision," the spokesperson wrote.

Democratic senators announced Tuesday they will soon introduce a third resolution in hopes to put the spotlight back on Republicans who wished to speed up the vote on the Green New Deal, to create a fissure in the Democratic Party.

All 47 Democrats — including Independent Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden announces all-female White House communications team The 'diploma divide' in American politics Bernie Sanders should opt for a government-created vaccine from China or Russia MORE (Vt.) and Angus KingAngus KingLeadership changes at top cyber agency raise national security concerns Top cybersecurity official ousted by Trump Republicans start turning the page on Trump era MORE (Maine), who caucus with the party — are backing the nonbinding resolution being introduced by Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerThe five biggest challenges facing President-elect Biden Collins urges voters to turn out in Georgia runoffs Protect America's houses of worship in year-end appropriations package MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Kerry says Paris climate deal alone 'is not enough' | EPA halts planned Taiwan trip for Wheeler| EPA sued over rule extending life of toxic coal ash ponds Overnight Energy: Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' | GM reverses on Trump, exits suit challenging California's tougher emissions standards | United Nations agency says greenhouse gas emissions accumulating despite lockdown decline GSA transition delay 'poses serious risk' to Native Americans, Udall says MORE (D-Del.), according to a Democratic leadership source.

Carper, speaking from the Senate floor, said the resolution would touch on three things that "we all agree on."

"Number one, we agree that climate change is real. Two, human activity during the last 100 years is a dominant cause of the climate change crisis we face today. And three, the United States, and especially the Congress … and the administration should take immediate action to address the challenge of climate challenge," Carper said.

—Jordain Carney contributed to this report.