Representative Mike Honda (D-California) said at an appropriations subcommittee hearing on Tuesday that the money being spent on defending the Defense of Marriage in court could be better spent investigating the Trayvon Martin case.
“We can spend some of that money and address ourselves to the issue in Florida where we could do some investigation and see if there are civil rights violations,” said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., and a senior Democratic whip team member.
At an appropriations subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Honda called on the GOP leadership to stop defending DOMA because the White House in February 2011 said it would stop defending the law, which Attorney General Eric Holder said violated the Constitution. The Supreme Court hasn’t ruled on the law that defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman.
Honda previously demanded a hearing into Boehner’s “irresponsible, backdoor use of taxpayer money to pay … to represent the House in support of the constitutionally-questionable[law].” Honda also called Boehner “overzealous” to have committed funds to defending the Defense of Marriage Act without knowing where those funds were coming from.
House Speaker Boehner has faced considerable pressure over the $1.5 million he has committed to spending to defend in court the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
This week saw revelations that the House had already collected $742,000 in defending DOMA and current contracts do not rule out a further ceiling hike if the $1.5m cap is reached, though the House leadership would not say how much of that money it has currently spent.
The House is currently involved in defending DOMA in 12 suits, nine of them active cases.
Also, while Boehner had said he intended to take the money back by defunding the Department of Justice by an equivalent amount, it emerged this week that no such recoup has happened.
“False reports that Republicans were able to get funds from the Dept. of Justice have now been thoroughly debunked,” Ryan Nickel, a spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, told The Huffington Post in an email. “In these difficult fiscal times, Democrats will continue to ask Republican leadership how they intend to pay for this contract.”
A GOP spokeswoman for the Appropriations Committee declined to weigh in on the funding streams and deferred to Boehner’s office. A Boehner spokesman reiterated that the Justice Department’s budget was cut last year. This was, of course, the case with nearly all federal agencies.
It is expected that DOMA will, in due course, go before the Supreme Court of the United States.
Meanwhile, Rep. Honda this week released a statement with regards to the Trayvon Martin shooting. Excerpts read:
I am extremely saddened to hear about the devastating killing of Trayvon Martin. I send my condolences to his family, friends, and community. While there are many unresolved questions, it is in the best interests of our country, and our commitment to all individuals in this nation regardless of skin color, that justice be served. Mr. George Zimmerman still walks a free man, while a 17-year-old deceased and unarmed young man is under scrutiny, validating that the underpinnings of this case must be proactively investigated, evaluated, and determined.
This brutality should not become another statistic, yet we also cannot view it as an isolated event. As a World War II Internee, I know firsthand the impact that racially motivated crimes can have on a family and a community. Violent acts are disproportionately committed against communities of color, and it is outrageous that cases such as Trayvon’s go uninvestigated, overlooked, and ultimately ignored.