Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) met with a group of child climate activists from Youth vs. Apocalypse in her regional senate office on Friday. The children were there to hand Feinstein a letter they had written urging her to support the Green New Deal, an aggressive climate change bill spearheaded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR).
But instead of engaging respectfully with the kids, Feinstein took a defensive and condescending attitude, telling them that it is there is “no way to pay for” the proposed actions in the Green New Deal.
“There’s reasons why I can’t, ’cause there’s no way to pay for it,” Feinstein said. “I don’t agree with what the resolution says. That’s part of it.”
Feinstein also told the kids that the Green New Deal won’t pass because no Republicans have signed on to co-sponsor it.
“That resolution will not pass the [Republican-controlled] Senate, and you can take that back to whoever sent you here,” she said, adding, “The key to good legislation is to tailor something that you write so that it can pass, and you can get a step ahead.”
“We’re asking you to be brave and do this for us and your grandchildren,” one activist pleaded.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’ve been doing,” Feinstein said. “You come in here and say it has to be my way or the highway. I’ve gotten elected. I just ran. I was elected by almost a million vote plurality and I know what I’m doing. Maybe people should listen a little bit.”
“I hear what you’re saying,” a teenage activist responded. “But we’re the people who voted you, you’re supposed to listen to us.”
“How old are you?” Feinstein asked.
“I’m 16,” the young woman said in response.
“Well, you didn’t vote for me,” Feinstein said.
Feinstein then handed out copies of her own resolution to combat climate change, although she did not mention any specifics in the bill, instead handing the activists copies and telling them to read it and come back “if you have a problem with it.”
“Any plan that doesn’t take transformative action is not what we need,” the teen said later in the exchange.
“Well, you know better than I do. So I think one day you should run for the United States Senate and then you do it your way.”
“Great, I will,” she responded.
After the videos of the meeting went viral, Feinstein released the details of her proposed resolution and issued a statement that initially misstated the group’s name as the Sunshine Movement — it’s the Sunrise Movement. She later corrected the statement.
“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,” the statement said.
I want the children from the Sunrise Movement 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. pic.twitter.com/JLoIMDf26u
— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) February 23, 2019
It’s a sad day in America when kids are begging for us to act to save their lives, whether it’s the Parkland students begging us to save them from gun violence in schools or these climate activists warning us about the looming apocalypse of climate change. Feinstein, at 85 years-old, will be long gone by the time the worst consequences of climate change occur, and these children will be left with a dying planet. The least we can do is listen to them and engage with them respectfully. Unfortunately, Feinstein did exactly the opposite.