Former President Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson: Who Needs Who?

It’s hard to tell who needs who more.

Former President Trump or House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.

It’s too early to say if Mr. Trump will return to the White House next January. But he needs assistance from Capitol Hill if he’s going to accomplish anything.

And it’s a jump ball at best to determine which party might control the House. Johnson is certainly the odds-on favorite to retain the Speakership if Republicans hold the House. But it’s about the math. Eleven Republicans voted alongside an effort in early May by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., to remove Johnson. That won’t work for Johnson if the GOP only maintains a slim majority. But an edict by a potential President-elect Trump in January 2025 could save the day for Johnson if he’s struggling to round up the votes for Speaker on January 3 – the Constitutionally-mandated day to begin the 119th Congress. 

Fox is told that former President Trump needs party unity. That could be the key to legislative success should Mr. Trump return to the White House for a 2.0 launch.

He would need help from the Hill. 

Johnson made his second pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to huddle with former President Trump in as many months this week. He brought with him Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., Chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). That’s the organization devoted to electing Republicans to the House.

‘We will not waste a moment. We will be working on a very aggressive agenda to fix all the great problems facing this country right now,’ said Johnson ahead his visit to southern Florida.

The meeting came just days after former President Trump visited House and Senate Republicans in separate meetings on both sides of Capitol Hill. It marked the first time Mr. Trump had crept anywhere close to the Capitol since the riot three-and-a-half years ago.

‘Unity is strength and the division is an invitation for your opponents to beat you. So I think he sees the advantage of unity,’ said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Tex., of Mr. Trump.

It’s worth noting that Cornyn could serve as either Senate Majority or Minority Leader next year. Current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has a strained relationship with former President Trump. 

Measuring draperies? Unclear. But the former President and Congressional Republicans are sharpening their 2025 legislative agenda.

‘Securing the border!’ said Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., on Fox.

‘We’ve got to bring down energy costs,’ declared Sen. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., on Fox.

‘The world is a tinderbox,’ said Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y.

The former President is already making promises. Some of which might not entail Congressional action.

‘On day one of my new administration, we all begin the largest deportation operation in American history,’ warned Mr. Trump.

Another priority is renewing the expiring Trump-era tax cuts.

Such a project likely requires the Senate use a special budgetary process to sidestep a filibuster. It’s known as ‘reconciliation.’ The Senate can only deploy this parliamentary tool on bills which don’t deal directly with policy – but focus on tax or fiscal issues. Senate Republicans used budget reconciliation to greenlight the tax cuts in late 2017. 

Budget reconciliation always requires that legislation approved under this special set of rules not add to the deficit. It is unclear how re-upping the tax cuts won’t contribute to the national debt. This may require some fancy bookkeeping.

Even so, former President Trump is likely to have narrow majorities in the House and Senate – if Republicans prevail. That’s why GOPers must stick together.

‘[Former President Trump] and I speak frequently about the election cycle, of course, and how we can complete the mission of restoring him to the White House and growing the House majority and winning the Republican majority in the Senate,’ said Johnson.

But critics claim there’s no agenda at all. It’s just about former President Trump. 

‘The Constitution doesn’t matter to them. None of it matters to them. The only thing that matters is the pursuit of power,’ opined Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who is running for the Senate.

Democrats are banking on tying former President Trump to vulnerable Republicans facing competitive re-elections in battleground states or districts.

‘They’re going to have to defend this approach that they’ve taken over the next several months in advance of November before the American people,’ said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. 

‘With November fast approaching, Republicans continue to show the American people where they really are with MAGA extremists and not with the majority of America,’ said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

President Biden and Democrats have long telegraphed their electoral strategy. They will run against three opponents this fall: Republicans. Former President Trump. And now, the Supreme Court. 

That’s why Democrats are escalating attacks on conservative Supreme Court justices in light of controversies about the conduct of justices and controversial rulings about guns and abortion.

‘It appears that [Supreme Court] Justice [Samuel] Alito is an insurrectionist sympathizer, joined by his right wing buddy, [Supreme Court Justice] Clarence Thomas,’ claimed Jeffries.

Democrats accuse Thomas and Alito of questionable ethics.

They ding Thomas for taking lavish getaways on the dimes of GOP megadonors.

‘He has done it 60 times. He was a vacation-taking fiend. My Lord!’ thundered Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., on the Senate floor.

The left targets Alito for flying controversial flags at his homes.

‘I believe the legacy of the [Chief Justice John] Roberts Court will be one of unchecked corruption and absolute politicization,’ said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. 

An attorney for Thomas says ethics rules don’t require him to report such trips – so long as donors don’t have business before the Court. 

Alito says his wife flew the flags. 

Republicans contend the Democrats’ complaints are camouflage for what really needles left.

‘Democrats don’t like the fact that the justices were making certain decisions,’ said Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo.

So, progressives are trying to curb powers of the Court.

‘I’m for term limits for members of Congress. Senators. Supreme Court justices. Let’s get some new blood in there,’ said Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif.

One Democrat demands that Chief Justice Roberts penalize associate justices.

‘He can say that Justice Alito no longer writes majority opinions. He can say that Justice Alito no longer presides over a circuit,’ said. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

Republicans are appalled by the ultimatums.

‘They want the Supreme Court to become subservient to the Congress,’ said Cornyn.

Top Republicans say the attacks are just politics.

‘This is an election year. And they’re trying to make much ado about nothing,’ said Johnson. 

But Democrats don’t seem to disagree when it comes to an electoral strategy.

‘Democrats in election after election after election, since the fall of Roe v. Wade in 2022, are winning,’ said Jeffries.

So, ahead of the election, former President Trump needs Congressional Republicans. Those same GOP lawmakers need him. But Democrats have their needs, too: former President Trump and the rightward tilt of the Supreme Court.

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