McConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' New Yorker cover titled 'The Shining' shows Graham, McConnell, Barr polishing Trump's shoes MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday vowed to be the "Grim Reaper" for progressive policies if Republicans hold on to the Senate in 2020. 

"If I'm still the majority leader in the Senate think of me as the Grim Reaper. None of that stuff is going to pass," McConnell said while speaking to community leaders in Owensboro, Ky.

McConnell noted that if Republicans win back the House or President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE wins reelection "that takes care of it." But he pledged that even if Republicans lose the White House, he would use his position as majority leader to block progressive proposals like the Green New Deal. 
 
"I guarantee you that if I'm the last man standing and I'm still the majority leader, it ain't happening. I can promise you," McConnell added. 
 
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His comments come as Republicans have seized on proposals like the Green New Deal and "Medicare for All" to paint Democrats as shifting to the left and embracing "socialism" as the next election nears. 
 
McConnell painted the 2020 election as a choice between capitalism and socialism, arguing that the latter has taken roots within the Democratic Party. He pointed to progressive pushes from freshman Democrats like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Murkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Warren, Ocasio-Cortez press Mnuchin on role in Sears bankruptcy MORE (D-N.Y.), making a veiled reference to the self-identified democratic socialist. 
 
"Now, my friends, we're having a legitimate debate about the virtues of socialism. And I don't want you to think this is just a 28-year-old congresswoman from New York. This is much broader than that," McConnell said. 
 
Ocasio-Cortez is the driver behind the Green New Deal, a sweeping environmental proposal which McConnell brought to the Senate floor last month in what he later acknowledged was a "show vote."
 
On Monday, McConnell pointed to the large share of Democrats voting "present" on the Green New Deal as proof that socialism is "a pervasive policy view on the other side." 
 
"I don't want you to think this is just a couple of nut cases running around here on the fringe," McConnell said. 
 
Republicans are defending 22 Senate seats next year, including McConnell's, compared to the 12 seats being defended by Democrats. Though most of the GOP seats are in solidly Republican states, McConnell still faces the possibility of losing several potentially vulnerable members, including Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (Maine), 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 (Colo.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Lawmakers call for investigation after census hired registered sex offender MORE (N.C.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenate defense bill would make military sexual harassment standalone crime Congress, White House near deal on spending, debt limit Trump mulling visit to ethanol refinery later this month: report MORE (Iowa). 
 
McConnell told reporters earlier this month that the country needs a "referendum on socialism," tipping his hand to his 2020 strategy. 
 
"Are we going to turn this into a socialist country? Don't assume it cannot happen," he added on Monday. "It will all be in the hands, I think, of the voters of this country next year."