The progressive climate advocacy group Sunrise Movement is lobbying Senators to support the Green New Deal ahead of a vote on the resolution that could reportedly come as early as next week, and today, a group of people including children who support the resolution presented a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California asking her to back it. It did not go well.
In the video posted by Sunrise, which is at least partially edited, kids in the group asked Feinstein to support the Green New Deal. Feinstein responded by saying that “we have our own Green New Deal.” Eventually, however, she lost patience with the group.
“You know what’s interesting about this group?” she said. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing. 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 ran, I was elected by almost a million vote plurality,” she continued. “And I know what I’m doing. So you know, maybe people should listen a little bit.”
After a teenager pointed out that part of Feinstein’s duties were listening to her constituents, Feinstein asked how old she was. “I’m 16, I can’t vote,” she said.
“Well, you didn’t vote for me,” Feinstein replied.
“It doesn’t matter, we’re the ones who are going to be impacted,” a child told Feinstein.
“I’m trying to do the best I can, which was to write a responsible resolution,” Feinstein later told the group. After an older member of the group implied that Feinstein’s alternative to the Green New Deal wasn’t good enough, Feinstein responded: “Well, you know better than I do. So, I think that one day you should run for the Senate. And then you do it your way.”
“In the meantime,” Feinstein added, “I just won a big election.”
Sunrise later tweeted out a link to a petition asking senators to sign onto the resolution, and said that young people would be delivering it at offices early next week.
“This is why we need fundamental change in the Democratic Party, said Sunrise Movement executive director Varshini Prakash said in a statement. “Leaders like Feinstein are out of-touch with the center of energy in the party, which is with the grassroots movement for a Green New Deal.”
In its statement, Sunrise also claimed that Feinstein told a 16-year old: “That resolution will not pass the Senate. And you can take that back to whoever sent you here.” Sunrise also said that Feinstein’s staff gave the group copies of a draft of an alternate resolution which sets zero-emission targets for “no later than 2050.”
We’ve reached out to Feinstein’s office for comment, and will update with any response we receive.
Update, 9:00 p.m. ET: Feinstein’s office released a statement Friday night about the meeting with the group. “Unfortunately, it was a brief meeting but I want the children to know they were heard loud and clear,” Feinstein said. “I have been and remain committed to doing everything I can to enact real, meaningful climate change legislation.”
“We had a spirited discussion and I presented the group with my draft resolution that provides specific responses to the climate change crisis, which I plan to introduce soon,” the statement continued. “I always welcome the opportunity to hear from Californians who feel passionately about this issue and it remains a top priority of mine.”
Update, 2/23/18, 6:30 p.m. ET: You can watch the full video here.