Are Mike Johnson and Donald Trump suddenly a match made in heaven?

Speaker Mike Johnson attends the House Republican conference meeting on Wednesday, 10 April (Getty Images)
Speaker Mike Johnson attends the House Republican conference meeting on Wednesday, 10 April (Getty Images)

Speaker Mike Johnson is making a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago this week, where he and Donald Trump will be at work to keep each other afloat.

Beset on all sides by critics, Johnson and Trump are set to unveil a piece of legislation that largely amounts to messaging — an effort to fight the already rare issue of undocumented immigrants who try to vote in US elections. Municipalities in just three states — California, Vermont and Maryland — allow noncitizens, including those who crossed the border illegally, to vote in local elections. A greater number explicitly ban the practice in their state constitutions.

What the legislation can best be summed up as is a life raft for the embattled House speaker. Johnson is facing a discharge petition leveled by Marjorie Taylor Greene and coming off the largest defection from members of his party yet: a vote by 19 House Republicans on Wednesday to kill a rule vote meant to advance the reauthorisation of America’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Friday’s meeting will be Johnson’s moment to cement his alignment with the former president and perhaps scare a few Republicans back into line — or, possibly more likely, to press Trump to rein in his loyalists like Matt Gaetz, who led Wednesday’s revolt. Gaetz is at the top of many enemy lists in the GOP caucus after he led the ouster of Kevin McCarthy last fall.

Trump, too, is in need of as many allies as he can get. He’s facing down four criminal investigations and staggering legal bills, all while he seeks the presidency for a third time. While he’s certainly in better immediate shape than Johnson, he too is seeking closer ties as the election approaches and his need for cash grows.

It will be interesting to hear what the former president has to say about Johnson, who has been a largely reliable frontman for the Mar-a-Lago team in the lower chamber. The speaker just recently led the opposition to a bipartisan agreement struck by negotiators in the Senate on the issue of border security, killing the deal and leaving the Republicans who joined the talks with Democrats out to dry. He has also, however, refused to back attempts from conservatives to coordinate government shutdowns aimed at forcing Democrats to accept tougher spending cuts and policy riders.

And it will also be worth watching Marjorie Taylor Greene to see if the combative conservative firebrand from Georgia backs down from her bid to threaten Johnson with a motion to discharge the speakership. She has yet to pick up a single Republican ally for the effort. The two lawmakers met on Wednesday as the FISA rule vote became his latest setback, only for Greene to emerge and defiantly insist that no agreement had been reached.

“We didn’t walk out with a deal. I explained to him that, and he acknowledged that as a Republican member of the House, I pretty much have the best view of how the base feels and what Republican voters want,” she told reporters.

House dysfunction is once again threatening to spill over into the Senate, where a dispute has emerged over the future of the impeachment trial for Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s director of homeland security. Democrats have indicated that they may dismiss the articles of impeachment passed by the House without a full trial for Mayorkas, who stands accused by Republicans of not meeting his responsibilities to secure the southern border. The GOP, in turn, has threatened to grind all business in the Senate to a halt by withholding unanimous consent for basic procedures.