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National News

Trump supports U.S. House Speaker Johnson, elections agenda in joint appearance

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., speaks while former President Donald Trump looks on during a press conference at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach, Florida. (Credit: C-SPAN screenshot/Pennsylvania Capital-Star)

Ariana Figueroa, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
April 12, 2024

WASHINGTON — U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson and Donald J. Trump met Friday evening in Palm Beach, Florida, to promote an unreleased bill related to noncitizens voting in federal elections.

The event doubled as a show of support from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee to the embattled GOP speaker.

The two men argued that strict voting requirements are needed because of the Biden administration’s immigration policy.

“We have an election problem,” Trump said, sharply criticizing the White House approach.

The bill would require proof of citizenship to vote in federal elections, Johnson said. That is already a requirement under federal law.

“Election integrity is tied to (the) border, the lack of border security,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the legislation would also require states to verify that someone who is registered to vote is a U.S. citizen, which states already do through federal databases, birth certificates or drivers licenses.

Johnson said he’ll bring the bill to the floor for a vote in order to put Democrats on the record.

“The Democrats are going to go on record,” Johnson said. “We’re about to find out their answer.”

An election bill would likely face a difficult path in the Senate where Democrats hold a slim majority and 60 votes are needed to pass legislation.

The visit to Trump’s golf resort and primary residence at Mar-a-Lago came as Johnson struggles to govern with a slim 218-213 majority and is fending off an effort from Trump ally and far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia to oust him as speaker.

“He’s doing a really good job under tough circumstances,” Trump said, throwing his support behind Johnson.

Johnson is also facing pressure from members on his hard-right flank over the reauthorization of a warrantless surveillance program under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and approving additional aid to Ukraine – two issues that Trump has voiced disapproval of.

“Election integrity is tied to (the) border, the lack of border security,” Johnson said.

​​In a statement from his campaign operation, Trump said that Johnson had agreed to hold “a series of public committee hearings over the next two months” to allow members of Congress to prepare to draft legislation.

The hearings will address mail-in voting, general preparedness for the 2024 election and voter registration list maintenance with a focus on preventing immigrants in the country illegally from registering to vote, the statement read.

Following the press conference, Alex Floyd, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee said in a statement that Trump and Johnson were “extreme election deniers and serial liars who are hellbent on threatening our democracy and spreading baseless falsehoods about the 2020 election.”

“The only thing this sad joint appearance will accomplish is to make it even more obvious to the American people that the future of our democracy is on the line this November,” Floyd said.

As in his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump has made fear of immigration a central theme in his bid for the White House this November.

1996 law already prohibits noncitizens from voting in federal elections.

However, as a handful of Democrat-led cities have passed laws allowing noncitizens to vote in local elections, Republicans have pushed a narrative that noncitizens are engaging in voter fraud at the federal level and have advocated for more restrictive voting rules.

Previous attempt

House Republicans led a similar effort last year, where the House Administration Committee passed on a party line vote a package to overhaul voting requirements for states inducing set penalties for states that allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

The committee’s chair, Wisconsin Republican Bryan Steil, said at the time the 224-page bill contained similar provisions to the voting reform bill that Georgia’s Republican legislature passed after Joe Biden won the state in 2020 and sent two Democratic senators to Washington. The Georgia bill was widely criticized by Democrats and advocates of voting access for adding barriers to voting.

That bill, which has gone nowhere in Congress, would have repealed an amendment passed by the D.C. Council in 2022 to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections. States including California, Maryland and Vermont have similar laws.

Trump has often, without evidence, claimed that large numbers of noncitizens are voting in federal elections.

Researchers have often disproven that. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, conducted an analysis of election conduct from 2003 to 2023 and found 29 instances of noncitizens voting.

Area of agreement

This is not the first time Trump and Johnson have aligned on voting issues.

A constitutional lawyer, Johnson played a key role in defending the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election through legal challenges. The Louisiana Republican led more than 100 House Republicans in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in a case challenging the election results in four key battleground states that President Joe Biden won – Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Supreme Court rejected the suit.

And during the Trump administration, Johnson served as Trump’s legal defense during his first impeachment in the House in 2020 when the former president was charged with obstructing Congress and abusing power.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.