Democratic leaders are protesting “repeated, secret increases” in the amount paid to outside counsel by the House majority in defense of the Defense of Marriage Act.
In a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) decried their discovery earlier this week that the GOP increased the DOMA contract by $3 million at the start of the 113th Congress.
“This is not the first time that House Republicans have made a unilateral decision to raise the ceiling on expenditures for this wasteful litigation that supports a discriminatory statute, without any public discussion or advance notice to Democratic members of the BLAG, Members of the House, or the public. This clandestine commitment of taxpayer funds is highly irregular and objectionable, and it must end now,” Pelosi and Hoyer wrote.
In 2011, President Obama told the Justice Department to stop defending the 1996 law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Republicans authorized $2.75 million to hire DOMA lawyers, and upped that to $3 million on Jan. 4.
“From the start, the Republican-led campaign to defend DOMA has been a practice in futility and a waste of Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars. The Republican-appointed, taxpayer-funded legal team has lost in every case,” Pelosi and Hoyer wrote. “Courts across the nation have stood on the side of justice and equality for all Americans. DOMA is on its way into the dustbin of history.”
They told Boehner it would be bad enough if Republicans were losing in court yet accepting the result, but “it is the height of hypocrisy for House Republicans to waste public funds in one breath then claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility in the next.”
“With Republicans willing to take our economy and our country to the brink of default in the name of deficit reduction, there is simply no excuse for any Member of Congress to commit taxpayer dollars to an unnecessary – and futile – legal battle,” Pelosi and Hoyer continued.
“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.”
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to DOMA at the end of March. The case, United States v. Windsor, centers on a case in which two New York lesbians legally married in Canada, then one had to pay taxes on the inheritance when her partner died.
“We believe it is only a matter of time before this offensive law is a discarded relic of a bygone era,” added Pelosi and Hoyer.