Sen. Dianne Feinstein isn’t backing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey's proposed climate change policy no matter what, which she made explicitly clear to a group of children visiting her office this week.
A video of the California Democrat verbally squaring off with the middle and high schoolers was posted to Facebook by the Sunrise Movement, a youth climate-change advocacy group. It quickly began making the rounds and sparking criticism of the senator across social media.
In the video, more than a dozen children are seen meeting with Feinstein hopes of discussing the deal and presenting her with a giant, handwritten letter asking her to vote yes. But, in less than five minutes, Feinstein made her position clear: She’d most likely be voting no, stating that “there’s no way to pay” for the resolution. Nonetheless, the children pressed on, and at times the conversation grew tense, as shown in the unedited version of the exchange.
"I've been doing this for 30 years. I know what I'm doing," Feinstein said at one point. "You come in here and you say, 'It has to be my way or the highway.' I don't respond to that."
One 16-year-old urged Feinstein to be less dismissive and more open to the Green New Deal, saying that “we’re the people who voted for you.” The senator then asked her age. Upon learning she was under 18, Feinstein stated, “Well, you didn’t vote for me.”
True, the children visiting her office likely did not vote for her — but as another child points out, the steps taken or not taken to improve climate change will affect their generation in the near future. A report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel found that devastation from climate change could be seen as early as 2030.
Feinstein’s frosty-at-times demeanor rubbed some the wrong way, with some on social media calling her comments “snarky and sarcastic,” and even simply rude.
.@SenFeinstein pro tip: don’t tell children inhabiting a dying planet and the first generation that is going to be worse off than their parents, that you’ve done this for 30 years and know what you’re doing,” one person tweeted.
“@SenFeinstein we’ll remember this,” wrote another.
everyone is commenting ab the full version and it’s worse than the edited. she makes more snarky and sarcastic comments to the kids when they try to read their letter to her “believe it or not we can actually read” @SenFeinstein we’ll remember this https://t.co/mev0sIQod7— Trinidad(Nicolás) (@stanpartition) February 23, 2019
Others praised Feinstein for taking the time to listen and were not happy about children being used as “pawns.”
She talked to them like they were adults which I thought was way more respectful than if she had just patted them on their heads, handed out some stickers and walked back into her office. Which she absolutely could have done.— Jamie 🦄 (@JamieFiorito) February 23, 2019
But some users found fault on both sides of the situation.
The senator later released a statement on Twitter stating that she wanted “the children from the Sunrise Movement to know they were heard loud and clear.” Feinstein also said that she has been and will “remain committed to doing everything I can to enact real, meaningful climate change legislation.”