SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and a group of San Francisco Bay Area students squared off over climate change in a sometimes tense exchange captured on video and widely shared on social media.
The 15-minute video of the impromptu Friday meeting captures the students and Feinstein debating the merits of the Green New Deal, an ambitious Democrat plan to shift the U.S. economy from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as wind and solar power.
The students passionately urged the California Democrat to support the legislation. But Feinstein, a 27-year veteran of the Senate, argued that the legislation had no chance of passing the Republican-controlled chamber.
"That resolution will not pass the Senate, and you can take that back to whoever sent you here and tell them," Feinstein responded after the students insisted the legislation was badly needed. "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."
Republicans have mocked the Green New Deal as a progressive pipedream that would drive the economy off a cliff and lead to a huge tax increase, calling it evidence of the creep of socialism in the Democratic party.
Instead, Feinstein said she supported an alternate plan.
The students are members of Sunrise Movement, an activist group that encourages children to combat climate change.
Sunrise Movement's Bay Area leader Morissa Zuckerman posted the debate on the group's Facebook page. A few hours later, edited versions were being shared widely across social media platforms.
Zuckerman said Saturday the group didn't have an appointment with Feinstein. Zuckerman said the group had earlier sought a meeting with Feinstein, but the senator's staff said she was unavailable.
It was the students' decision to call on Feinstein's San Francisco office on Friday, Zuckerman said .
In the video, Zuckerman says, "If this doesn't get turned around in 10 years, you're looking at the faces of the people who are going to be living with the consequences."
Feinstein countered that she understands the consequences of climate change.
"I've been doing this for 30 years. I know what I'm doing," Feinstein said. "You come in here and you say it has to be my way or the highway. I don't respond to that."
Later Friday, Feinstein issued a statement calling the debate a "spirited discussion" and said "I want the children to know they were heard loud and clear."
Feinstein's spokesman Adam Russell declined further comment Saturday.
Senator Dianne Feinstein through the years
Senator Dianne Feinstein through the years
San Francisco's mayor Dianne Feinstein smiling and reviewing a document in her city hall office.
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 11: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., talks with reporters before a Senate Judiciary Committee markup in Dirksen Building on the 'Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017' and judicial nominations on January 11, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
San Francisco Mayor & Dem. gubernatorial hopeful Dianne Feinstein speaking on telephone in private box during NFL game between San Francisco 49ers & Seattle Seahawks; looking at aide. (Photo by Kim Komenich/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
California Governor Gray Davis (L) chats with Senator Dianne Feinstein
(D-CA) on his campaign plane during a three-day tour of California,
October 4, 2003. Davis faces a recall election October 7. REUTERS/Lucy
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Her staff is responsible for spearheading the 6,000-page report set to be released Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, on the interrogation tactics used by the CIA during the George W. Bush years, which President Obama and others have labeled as torture.
US President 's first Supreme Court nominee, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (left) is greeted by the first two women to serve on the Senate Judicary Committee - Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL), right - on July 20 prior to the opening of Ginsburg's confirmati on hearings on Capitol Hill
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U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) (L) welcomes U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch (R) in her office on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 6, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, talks to reporters after a private meeting the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. U.S. Senate Democrats plan to elevate first-term Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to their leadership ranks on an expanded communications and policy committee led by third-ranking Democrat Charles Schumer. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein gets off a escalator at the U.S. Capitol building November 12, 2014 in Washington, DC. Congress returned to work today following last week's mid-term election break. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) during a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., April 3, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
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Ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) preside over the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch (not pictured) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks to reporters after the Senate approved $15.25 billion in aid for areas affected by Hurricane Harvey along with measures that would fund the federal government and raise its borrowing limit on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during FBI Director James Comey's appearance before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Bill Clinton holds hands with US. Senator Dianne Feinstein (L) and California Democratic Governor Candidate Kathleen Brown (R) November 4 at a Democratic party rally on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall. Clinton urged voters to elect Brown and re-elect Fienstein, saying he needs them on his team
California State Assemblyman and Democratic Party Congressional candidate Mike Honda raises his arm along with California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D/CA) (L) at a campaign rally at Honda headquarters in San Jose, California, on November 1, 2000. Honda is locked in a tight race with Republican Party candidate Jim Cunneen to represent California's 15th Congressional District. The seat is being vacated by Republican Representative Tom Campbell who is running for the U.S. Senate against Feinstein.
Senator Dianne Feinstein addresses supporters November 7 at a pre-election day rally at her campaign headquarters
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) laughs during an election party in San Francisco, California, November 7, 2006. REUTERS/Kimberly White (UNITED STATES)
(Original Caption) San Diego: On the end of a two-day, 5-city campaign tour, former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein announces her intention to seek the Democratic nomination for California governor in the June 5th primary election. Speaking to the San Diego media on the issues, she challenged opponent Calif. Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp to a series of 6 debates.
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) appears on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 6: (L to R) Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) talk with each other during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing concerning firearm accessory regulation and enforcing federal and state reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on Capitol Hill, December 6, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, listens during a hearing with Jeff Sessions, U.S. attorney general, not pictured, in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. Sessionsï¿½told senators he won't answer questions about his conversations with Presidentï¿½Donald Trumpï¿½over the firing of FBI Directorï¿½James Comey. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images