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McConnell pledges to be 'Grim Reaper' for progressive policies

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellImmigration, executive action top Biden preview of first 100 days Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight McConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report 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 TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race 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-CortezOcasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation Biden Cabinet picks largely unify Democrats — so far New Consensus co-founder discusses proposal for Biden to use Fed to sidestep Congress 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 CollinsTwo more parting shots from Trump aimed squarely at disabled workers Trump transition order follows chorus of GOP criticism The Memo: Trump election loss roils right MORE (Maine), Cory GardnerCory GardnerHillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities Democrats vent to Schumer over Senate majority failure MORE (Colo.), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTeam Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection North Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid MORE (N.C.) and Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstThe Memo: Trump plows ahead with efforts to overturn election More conservatives break with Trump over election claims Peggy Noonan: 'Bogus dispute' by Trump 'doing real damage' 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."