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) TesterOvernight Defense: Trump officials say efforts to deter Iran are working | Trump taps new Air Force secretary | House panel passes defense bill that limits border wall funds GOP angst grows amid Trump trade war Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto MORE (D-Mont.) told The Hill before the Presidents Day recess: “Probably not.”

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Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate panel approves Interior nominee over objections from Democrats Labor head warns of 'frightening uptick' in black lung disease among miners Labor leader: Trump has stopped erosion of coal jobs 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 TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push 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 DurbinIraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Muslim lawmakers host Ramadan iftar to break fast at Capitol Let's stop treating student borrowers like second-class citizens 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 MarkeyGOP senator announces bill to block companies from tracking online activity Trump faces criticism for hosting Hungary's leader Bill Nye tees off on climate change skeptics: 'The planet is on f---ing fire!' MORE (D-Mass.), who introduced the resolution in the Senate, “What in the heck is this?”

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss This week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination 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-CortezThe Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats Republican wins special House election in Pennsylvania WHIP LIST: Dems who support an impeachment inquiry against President Trump 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 LarsenActing FAA chief defends agency's Boeing 737 Max safety certification Pelosi, Dems struggle to find unity in Mueller response Booker takes early lead in 2020 endorsements 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 Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push The Memo: Trump allies see impeachment push backfiring on Democrats MORE (D-Calif.) instead decided to create a different committee, the Select Committee on Climate Crisis, headed by Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorHouse climate panel will study drilling ban backed by 2020 Dems Overnight Energy — Presented by Job Creators Network — Ocasio-Cortez knocks O'Rourke's climate plan | Dems in disarray over Paris climate bill | Climate change top issue for Dem voters in poll Dems lack unified plan for pushing Paris climate bill MORE (D-Fla.).

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests 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 BarrassoTrump boxed in on trade Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations Mike Enzi announces he'll retire from Senate after 2020 MORE (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat 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 vows to form White House office on abortion rights 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Iowa Democrats brace for caucus turnout surge MORE (D-N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandGOP faces new challenge in 2020 abortion fight 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann Warren2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights Harris seeks Iowa edge with army of volunteers MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersIraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests Iowa Democrats brace for caucus turnout surge MORE (I-Vt.), and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHarris seeks Iowa edge with army of volunteers GOP senators split over antitrust remedies for big tech Fox's Brit Hume fires back at Trump's criticism of the channel 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 BrownOn The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by 'Obama-appointed judge' | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls Lawmakers grapple with the future of America's workforce The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate 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 SchumerSchumer wants investigation into Chinese-designed New York subway cars Getting serious about infrastructure Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act 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.