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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) TesterThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's infrastructure plan triggers definition debate Lawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job Five things to watch on Biden infrastructure plan MORE (D-Mont.) told The Hill before the Presidents Day recess: “Probably not.”

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Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinFive hurdles Democrats face to pass an infrastructure bill Nixed Interior nominee appointed to different department role  Against mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan 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 TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report 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 DurbinSchumer warns Democrats can't let GOP block expansive agenda Holder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ Biden's gun control push poses danger for midterms 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 MarkeyHillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle | Justices dismiss suit over Trump's blocking of critics on Twitter | Tim Cook hopes Parler will return to Apple Store Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids Give Republicans the climate credit they deserve MORE (D-Mass.), who introduced the resolution in the Senate, “What in the heck is this?”

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyFace mask PPE is everywhere now — including the ocean Green tech isn't all it's cracked up to be 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet 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-CortezNY House Democrats demand repeal of SALT cap The Memo: How liberal will the Biden presidency be? Five hurdles Democrats face to pass an infrastructure bill 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 LarsenDemocrats debate fast-track for infrastructure package LIVE COVERAGE: House votes to name Speaker COVID-19 is wild card as Pelosi faces tricky Speaker vote Sunday 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 PelosiPelosi says she would have put up a fight against Capitol mob: 'I'm a street fighter' Biden to address Congress on April 28 NY House Democrats demand repeal of SALT cap 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: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle | Justices dismiss suit over Trump's blocking of critics on Twitter | Tim Cook hopes Parler will return to Apple Store Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids Lawmakers wager barbecue, sweets and crab claws ahead of Super Bowl MORE (D-Fla.).

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell seeks to end feud with Trump Senate GOP signal they won't filibuster debate of hate crimes bill Colin Powell on Afghanistan: 'We've done all we can do' 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 BarrassoSunday shows preview: Democrats eye passage of infrastructure bill; health experts warn of fourth coronavirus wave Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows As Congress considers infrastructure, don't forget rural America MORE (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 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 BookerCongressional Black Caucus members post selfie celebrating first WH visit in four years Black lawmakers press Biden on agenda at White House meeting The first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally MORE (D-N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandJon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet MORE (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenForgiving K in school loans would free 36 million student borrowers from debt: data IRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion Biden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Congress can protect sacred Oak Flat in Arizona from mining project MORE (I-Vt.), and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after pushback from Klobuchar, Lee Lobbying world 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 BrownBusinessman Mike Gibbons jumps into GOP Senate race in Ohio A bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure 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 SchumerHolder, Yates lead letter backing Biden pick for Civil Rights Division at DOJ Capitol Police officer killed in car attack lies in honor in Capitol Rotunda Rep. Andy Kim on Asian hate: 'I've never felt this level of fear' 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.