U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein described as “spirited” a discussion she had with children reportedly as young as seven years old, after they called on her to support the Green New Deal on Friday.
The activist group that arranged the visit used a different word to describe the exchange: “condescending.”
A group of teens and kids with the Bay Area chapter of the Sunrise Movement, an activist organization that works to “stop the climate crisis and create millions of good-paying jobs in the process,” met the Democratic senator at her office in San Francisco.
There, one young activist explained that they were “trying to ask you to vote yes on the Green New Deal,” legislation proposed by Sen. Ed Markey and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both Democrats, that is meant to change the U.S. economy to tackle climate change and create thousands of renewable energy jobs.
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“I’ll tell you what,” Feinstein began her response.
“We have our own Green New Deal, piece of legislation.”
One activist countered, “we’re trying to promote the Green New Deal.”
“Well the reason why I can’t is because there’s no way to pay for it,” Feinstein responded.
An activist then said that the U.S. has “lots of money going to the military.”
To that, Feinstein said: “The U.S. government does a lot of things with the money, and they’re important things, and you just can’t go in and say, OK, we’re going to take hundreds of millions from here, and hundreds of millions from there. It just doesn’t work that way.”
The senator went on to say that she doesn’t agree with what the proposed Green New Deal says — it calls to rid the U.S. of its carbon footprint by 2030 by having 100 per cent of the country’s power needs met through renewable energy — and said a separate resolution, which calls for a longer timeline to hike back emissions, according to the New York Times, had a better chance of passing.
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Feinstein said the Green New Deal would not pass the Republican-dominated Senate.
“I’ve been in the Senate for over a quarter of a century, and I know what can pass and I know what can’t pass,” she said.
An activist subsequently said, “The government is supposed to be for the people, by the people….”
Feinstein then stepped in, saying, “What’s interesting about this group is 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.
“We’re the people who voted for you, you’re supposed to listen to us,” a teen activist said.
“How old are you?” Feinstein asked.
“I’m 16,” she said.
“Well, you didn’t vote for me,” the senator responded.
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Feinstein subsequently had copies of the resolution that she supports handed out to the activists in the room.
The Green New Deal could go up for a vote in the Senate next week, the Times reported.
It’s not expected to draw any votes from Republicans, and it could divide Democrats too, it added.