Grilled by children, Feinstein tries to teach lesson in politics

"That resolution will not pass the Senate," Feinstein says of the Green New Deal.
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By Dennis Romero

U.S. Sen Dianne Feinstein, D-California, isn't backing the Green New Deal, and she wasn't shy about letting a group who does support it know it — even if they are children.

A group of schoolchildren visited the senator at her San Francisco office Friday and urged her to get on board with the renewable energy legislation. But the conversation quickly turned into somewhat of a confrontation, and Feinstein has been criticized online for the tone she took. Edited video of the 85-year-old lecturing more than a dozen kids went viral Friday.

One girl implored the senator to back the Green New Deal and argued that the government can afford it. "We have tons of money going to military," the girl told the lawmaker.

"I've been doing this for 30 years," 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."

The senator called Friday's interaction "a spirited discussion."

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

Her supporters said a longer video of the confrontation depicts Feinstein in a kinder light. In that clip, she sends aides off to get copies of an environmental bill she's backing in the U.S. Senate. "If you have a problem with it you can let me know," she told the group.

Of the Green New Deal, Feinstein says, "Well the reasons why I can’t, 'cause there’s no way to pay for it."

The children were organized by a group, Sunrise Movement, that's backing the House legislation that was introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass.

The House legislation aims for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and 100 percent renewable energy sources in the United States by 2030. Feinstein said it has no Republican support in the Senate, making in a nonstarter there.

"That resolution will not pass the senate," Feinstein told the children.

Dennis Romero

Dennis Romero writes for NBC News and is based in Los Angeles.