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Sen. Dianne Feinstein tells youth climate change activists "I know what I'm doing"

Feinstein rebukes kids pushing Green New Deal
Video shows Dianne Feinstein rebuking kids pushing her to back Green New Deal 00:57

Sen. Dianne Feinstein had a heated exchange with a group of middle and high school students who asked her to sign the Green New Deal in a clip that went viral Friday. Activists from the Sunrise Movement, a youth climate-change advocacy group, posted video on social media of the confrontation, where Feinstein said, "I've been doing this for 30 years, I know what I'm doing."

"You come in here and say 'it has to be my way or the highway' and I don't respond to that," Feinstein told about 15 students at her San Francisco office. "I've gotten elected, I just ran, I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality, and I know what I'm doing."

Feinstein told the students she is opposed to the Green New Deal for several reasons, including "we can't pay for it" and she doesn't agree with what it says. The Green New Deal, championed by Democrats Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasico-Cortez, aims to convert the entire U.S. economy to renewable energy within 12 years, while also sparking a massive burst of job-creation and technological innovation.

When the students told her "some scientists say we have 12 years to turn this around," Feinstein answered "Well it's not going to get turned around in 10 years."

An edited clip was posted on Twitter but a much longer exchange was posted on Facebook. In the full version, Feinstein explained why she believes her own climate-change legislation is better than the Green New Deal. At the end, she offers one of the students an internship.   

When the students told her she has to listen to them because they voted for them, Feinstein challenged one student on her age until she admitted she was 16. "Well you didn't vote for me," Feinstein answered.

About 100 people had rallied outside Feinstein's office Friday, including students from Oakland Unified School District, where classes are canceled due to a teacher strike this week. 

In a statement hours after the clip went viral, Feinstein said she welcomed the "spirited discussion." 

"Unfortunately, it was a brief meeting but 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," Feinstein said.

Feinstein's liberal challenger in the 2018 election, Kevin de Leόn, did not mention Feinstein directly after the video spread across the Internet, but tweeted "Climate change is real, and we won't survive what's coming unless EVERYONE is part of the conversation." 

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