The partial government shutdown halted all death benefits to families of fallen U.S. servicemen and women, until a private charity offered to pick up the slack. Commentator Bill O’Reilly, however, wondered if President Barack Obama could have paid the families with an executive order.
On Thursday night’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” O’Reilly and former Clinton adviser James Carville debated the legality of a hypothetical executive order that would restore benefits to military families. Carville insisted that Congress’ actions were required, despite O’Reilly’s vehement protest to the contrary.
CARVILLE: It is not clear at all, and you would have to get a lawyer — the president by executive order can spend unappropriated money. It is in the Constitution that the executive can’t spend money that the Congress doesn’t appropriate.
O’REILLY: They should have had the money to do it. Carville, Carville, the war in Afghanistan hasn’t stopped, all right? They have the money to fund the war and to do this as an adjacency to the war. This is just bull. All right. Go ahead.
CARVILLE: You need a lawyer to tell you –
O’REILLY: I don’t need a lawyer to tell me anything. I know what the executive –
CARVILLE: I’m not being legalistic. He could be impeached for it.
O’REILLY: Stop. Nobody would challenge that. There’s not one person in the country who would challenge that.
CARVILLE: Now, they fixed it, so there you go. But it’s not altogether clear that he can. Like a lot of these others. Look, I’ll tell you this. What we’re finding out now is, the government does a lot of useful things, and what they need to do is let the whole House vote. Why don’t call on John Boehner and –
O’REILLY: You’re just giving a partisan play here. You’re not dealing with the major problems that are arising. You’re giving this a partisan play.
CARVILLE: I’m not giving this a partisan play.
O’REILLY: I expect more of you.
CARVILLE: Bill, I’m not giving you a partisan play. What I’m saying is let the House of Representatives vote on the deal Speaker Boehner and Sen. Reid made. That’s not a partisan play. That’s saying put it to a vote.
O’REILLY: All right, baloney.