Dems face tough vote on Green New Deal

Democrats are facing a defining Senate vote as early as next week on the "Green New Deal" climate change plan — which Republicans hope will bolster their argument that the party is too far left for the country.

It’s unclear how many Democrats will ultimately back the progressive-pushed resolution, which aims to get the U.S. running on 100 percent renewable energy by 2030, but it’s certain to divide the party.

Asked if he’d vote for the resolution, a chuckling Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi looks to squash fight with progressives MORE (D-Mont.) told The Hill before the Presidents Day recess: “Probably not.”

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Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (D-W.Va.), another centrist in the Democratic caucus, characterized the plan in an interview with CNN last week as a “dream,” suggesting he’d vote against it.

“I’ll vote on the motion to proceed and then we’ll see after that,” Manchin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Natural Resources Committee, told The Hill.

While Manchin and Tester are both centrists from states President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE won in 2016, even some liberal Democrats are admitting they’re having a hard time getting behind the Green New Deal.

Senate Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats pledge to fight Trump detention policy during trip to border Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations MORE (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, called the plan a “resolution aspiration,” during an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Wednesday.

“He said he wasn’t sure how he’d vote, adding that he had asked Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyHillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator FTC looks to update children's internet privacy rules MORE (D-Mass.), who introduced the resolution in the Senate, “What in the heck is this?”

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Democrats warm to idea of studying reparations Senate Democrat releasing book on Trump admin's treatment of migrants at border MORE (D-Ore.) told the Hill last week that he was prepared to vote "yes" on the bill himself. But when asked about whether it will be hard for others in his party to get on board, he responded, “Every senator can speak for themselves on that.”

The far-reaching climate plan was largely conceptualized by progressive star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' George Takei: US has hit a new low under Trump #IStandWithErica trends after Georgia Democratic lawmaker says she was told to 'go back where you came from' MORE (D-N.Y.), who introduced the resolution in the House in early February.

The plan’s main goals include a push toward renewable energy that supporters say would jump-start thousands of new jobs.

Some of its aims though, have generated criticism for being too far-reaching and not focused enough on issues directly tied to reducing carbon emissions. For example, measures in the resolution include goals to expand family farming and the availability of clean water. The resolution received the most notoriety after drafts were circulated of a Q&A for the plan, written by Ocasio-Cortez’s office, that included talking points on getting rid of “emissions from cows” and all airplane travel.

“It is difficult to support the resolution right now when one of the lead sponsors says one of the intentions is to make air travel unnecessary,” Rep. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment WHIP LIST: The 87 House Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry Acting FAA chief defends agency's Boeing 737 Max safety certification MORE (D-Wash.), the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation, said in a statement in early February.

The premise of the Green New Deal has split Democrats from the start.

The Green New Deal last fall started as a blueprint for Ocasio-Cortez’s sought-after select committee on climate change. More than 45 lawmakers supported the creation of the committee to draft a Green New Deal plan, but House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets 10 questions for Robert Mueller Ocasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' MORE (D-Calif.) instead decided to create a different committee, the Select Committee on Climate Crisis, headed by Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorPelosi, Schumer invite US women's soccer team to Capitol Democrats grill Trump officials over fuel standard rollback Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment MORE (D-Fla.).

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch Funding a strong defense of our nation's democratic process can't wait The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (R-Ky.) is now fast-tracking a vote on the resolution in hopes that it will divide Democrats and unite his own party. A vote can happen as early as next week.

“I’m looking forward to voting against the Green New Deal because it’s just so bad for the economy and we’ll have an opportunity for the Democrats to see if they want to rubber stamp this lurch to the left, this hard left turn that their party seems to be taking right now,” said Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator EPA hails Trump's work on reducing air pollution House passes bill to crack down on toxic 'forever chemicals' MORE (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerTrump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Republicans scramble to contain Trump fallout MORE (R-Colo.), who faces a tough reelection race next year, equated the plan to socialism.

“This idea is about socialism. That’s what this is. Look at it. Read it,” Gardner said. “And it’s important that we tell the American people what it is.”

By pushing the vote through, Republicans are also aiming to lock down the positions of Democrats running for president in 2020.

“[It’s important] to get people on record as to how much they really want to take this country in a hard left direction,” Barrasso said.

Democratic hopefuls Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerBooker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Cory Booker talks about 'geeking out' over Rosario Dawson's Marvel role Harris faces pressure to define policy proposals MORE (D-N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage MORE (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris faces pressure to define policy proposals Harris voices support for Puerto Rico protesters: 'I stand with them' Democrats slam Puerto Rico governor over 'shameful' comments, back protesters MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBullock: I would not have endorsed health care for undocumented immigrants on debate stage Harris faces pressure to define policy proposals Biden campaign rips 'Medicare for All,' calls on Dems to protect Affordable Care Act MORE (I-Vt.), and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharDemocratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage Protect American patients and innovation from a harmful MedTech Tax increase MORE (D-Minn.) have voiced their support for the Green New Deal and co-sponsored the resolution.

Others have remained on the fence, including Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei MORE (D-Ohio), a potential candidate who hasn’t officially joined the presidential race. He resisted calls to endorse Ocasio-Cortez’s specific plan, saying he instead supports “a green new deal.”

“There will be all kinds of bills sponsored by individual presidential candidates. ... I’m not going to take position on every bill that’s coming out. I support a green new deal. I think we need to aggressively support climate change [legislation]. That’s my answer,” he told reporters at a breakfast last week.

Democratic leaders however say they too are planning to gain from the vote.

Speaking on the Senate floor last week, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem senator describes 'overcrowded quarters,' 'harsh odor' at border facilities Top Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens MORE (D-N.Y.) derided McConnell’s decision to force a vote on the issue, saying, “Bring it on.”

“You think it might embarrass Democrats to vote on a nonbinding resolution that some of us may support but not others?” Schumer asked. “Trust me, we’ll be fine, because the American people know that our entire party believes that climate change is happening and it’s caused by humans.”

Durbin said Democrats will be looking at the vote as an opportunity to get Republicans on record about their plans to fight the looming threat of climate change.

“What we’re going to do is ask the Republican leader, ‘What’s your position on global warming, while we’re at it?'” Durbin said Wednesday. “'Shouldn’t you come out on the record and tell us whether you believe man-made activity is having an impact on our environment?’ Let’s get on the record on both sides.”

Timothy Cama contributed.

This story has been updated.