US senator argues with school children about climate change policy

Sarah Harvard

Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein got into a heated exchange with primary-age school children over the Green New Deal, firmly stating that she will not support the renewable energy plan.

A group of schoolchildren stopped by the California senator’s San Francisco office on Friday to call on her to support the scheme, spearheaded by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, that calls for net-zero greenhouse emissions and 100 per cent renewable energy in the US by 2030.

However, the conversation between Ms Feinstein, 85, and the children apparently escalated into a confrontation with the Democratic lawmaker criticised for the tone she took.

The testy exchange was captured on video by a campaign group and heavily edited before being posted online.

In the video the California Democrat tells the children she could not support the Green New Deal because “there’s no way to pay for it”.

But one girl replied to say: “We have tons of money going to [the] military.”

“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” Ms Feinstein said. “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.”

She added: “I’ve gotten elected. I just ran. 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.”

Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s scheme would “not pass the Senate”, the veteran politician told the children. After one asked her to vote for it anyway, she said: “I may do that ... but it’s not a good resolution.”

Supporters of Ms Feinstein said the video only showed a part of the interaction between the children and the politician. In events not shown, Ms Feinstein said she presented her visitors with copies of the environmental bill she is supporting in the Senate instead of the Green New Deal.

“If you have a problem with it, you can let me know,” Ms Feinstein told the children later in the video.

Ms Feinstein defended the scrutinised exchange as “a spirited discussion”, NBC News reported.

“Unfortunately, it was a brief meeting but I want the children to know they were heard loud and clear,” she added.

The schoolchildren’s visit was organised by Sunrise Movement, a anti-climate change youth organisation that is backing the Green New Deal legislation.

Adults from the group also lobbied Ms Feinstein during the visit.