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) TesterFive Senate Democrats reportedly opposed to Biden banking nominee Dark money group spent 0M on voter turnout in 2020 Biden to speak on economy Tuesday, with Fed pick imminent MORE (D-Mont.) told The Hill before the Presidents Day recess: “Probably not.”
Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinWith extreme gerrymanders locking in, Biden needs to make democracy preservation job one Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season 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 TrumpJan. 6 panel faces double-edged sword with Alex Jones, Roger Stone Trump goes after Woodward, Costa over China Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE won in 2016, even some liberal Democrats are admitting they’re having a hard time getting behind the Green New Deal.
Senate Dick DurbinDick DurbinGraham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks 91 House Dems call on Senate to expand immigration protections in Biden spending bill Bipartisan senators press FBI, inspector general for changes following Nassar case 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 MarkeyEd MarkeyEquilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Pledged money not going to Indigenous causes Senate Democrats call on Biden to push for COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers at WTO The Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid MORE (D-Mass.), who introduced the resolution in the Senate, “What in the heck is this?”
Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyLawmakers call on Olympic committee to press China on human rights abuses Senate Democrats call on Biden to push for COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers at WTO The Hill's Morning Report - Ins and outs: Powell renominated at Fed, Parnell drops Senate bid 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-CortezGreene: McCarthy 'doesn't have the full support to be Speaker' Omar calls out Boebert over anti-Muslim remarks, denies Capitol incident took place Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 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 LarsenFAA: New manufacturing issue discovered in undelivered Boeing 787 Dreamliners Newest Boeing 737 Max takes first test flight Democrats seek answers from Boeing, FAA after production issues with 737 Max, Dreamliner jets 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 PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous MORE (D-Calif.) instead decided to create a different committee, the Select Committee on Climate Crisis, headed by Rep. Kathy CastorKatherine (Kathy) Anne CastorHillicon Valley — Feds issue Thanksgiving cybersecurity warning Democrats press Facebook over 'inconsistency' on ad targeting for teens House climate panel chair: 'We just don't have any more time to waste' MORE (D-Fla.).
In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season 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 BarrassoWhite House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Biden administration to release 50 million barrels of oil from strategic reserve Energy information chief blames market for high fuel prices MORE (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerGun control group alleges campaign finance violations in lawsuit against NRA Colorado Supreme Court signs off on new congressional map Colorado remap plan creates new competitive district 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 BookerPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall MORE (D-N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandThis Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead Lobbying world Democrats optimistic as social spending bill heads to Senate MORE (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Biden eyes new path for Fed despite Powell pick Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by Southern Company — Storms a growing danger for East Coast MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions BBB threatens the role of parents in raising — and educating — children MORE (I-Vt.), and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden renominates Powell as Fed chair Senate Democrats look to fix ugly polling numbers The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Gosar censured as GOP drama heightens 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 BrownFive Senate Democrats reportedly opposed to Biden banking nominee Senate Democrats call on Biden to push for COVID-19 vaccine patent waivers at WTO Biden sidesteps Fed fight, disappointing progressive allies 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 SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer mourns death of 'amazing' father Feehery: The honest contrarian Biden administration to release oil from strategic reserve: reports 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.