Because the President determined that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, the federal government won’t defend it in court, including in front of the Supreme Court in March. But the GOP base is crazy because of that, in that they want the government to keep The Gheys down where they belong, or at least not married.
So the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, set up a lawyers’ group to defend DOMA, with a half-million dollar budget. Lawyers being lawyers, they blew through that budget while losing their cases at every appellate level. Now they have to put together their case before SCOTUS.
But that costs money. So far, Boehner’s got the BLAG (Bi-Partisan Legal Advisory Group) to agree (Democrats voting NO) to increase the lawyers’ budget to $1.5M. But they need more money! And every time he tries to get more money for DOMA defense, that darn Nancy Pelosi raises a stink.
So on January 3rd, when the House got organized, Speaker Boehner incorporated BLAG into this Congress’s rules. No one was quite sure why, but now a reason has become apparent. How about secretly raising the cap on expenditures? This time to three million dollars:
House Republicans secretly agreed to raise the cost for defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court to $3 million in the first week that the 113th Congress was sworn into office, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Washington Blade on Tuesday.
The contract, signed by new House Committee on Administration Chair Candace Miller (R-Mich.), allows for expenses to pay for outside counsel to defend DOMA in court to reach $3 million — a full $1 million more than the previous cost cap agreed to in September. In a statement this week, House Democrats said the agreement was reached in secret and they weren’t aware of it until late Monday.
Predictably, Democratic members of BLAG who were kept in the dark about this are pissed:
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the two “no” votes on BLAG, responded to news that the cost cap to defend DOMA was yet again raised and raised in secret with consternation.
In a letter to Boehner dated Jan. 15, they jointly renew their call on House Republicans to discontinue defense of DOMA — but also made a new call for Republicans to demonstrate their defense of DOMA more transparently — calling the actions a “clandestine commitment of taxpayer funds” as well as “highly irregular and objectionable.”
“Until Republicans decide to abandon this effort once and for all, we ask you to make your legal plans clear; to make public every contract signed with outside counsel in this case in a timely manner; to declare the total cost of this case to the taxpayers; and to abide by the highest standards of transparency and accountability,” Pelosi and Hoyer wrote.
Good luck with that.
Photo by NASA HQ in the public domain.