- Jonathan Swan
- May 21
Trump wanted to veto bill to keep government open
Andrew Harnik / AP
Publicly, President Trump didn't seem overjoyed when, earlier this month, he signed a $1 trillion bill to keep the government open. Privately, his mood was much, much worse.
Behind-the-scenes: When the spending bill had been negotiated and finalized, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus phoned the former House Speaker John Boehner and told him the president doesn't like how the negotiation came out and is thinking about vetoing the bill. Boehner has told associates that Priebus asked him if he could talk Trump into signing the spending bill. Boehner said he would.
Ten minutes later, Boehner's phone rang. It was the President. Boehner made a couple different arguments to Trump about why he should sign the spending bill:
- He told Trump he should be happy about the fact that he doesn't have to give a dollar of domestic spending in exchange for increases in military spending. And he got a substantial boost in military spending.
- The most important argument Boehner made: the last thing you need right now is a government shutdown.
Why this matters: I'm not suggesting Boehner's conversation with Trump was determinative. It's telling, however, that the President hated the spending bill so much that his chief of staff felt the need to reach out to the former House Speaker — a guy who captained an implacable conference through plenty of funding battles — to convince Trump to sign the bill.