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Pressure Mounts for Boehner to Reveal DOMA Defense Details

Pressure Mounts for Boehner to Reveal DOMA Defense Details

A further three members of the U.S. House have written to House Speaker John Boehner asking that he reveal precisely how the $500,000 figure for defending Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was calculated and where those funds will be taken from.

The letter, sent Wednesday by three members of the Committee on House Administration, ranking member Robert A. Brady of (D-Pa.), and Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), also questions whether the $520-an-hour figure for lawyer Paul Clement’s defense of DOMA was correctly appropriated.

From the Hill

“During a hearing of the Legislative Branch Appropriations subcommittee last week, we learned that this contract may violate the fundamental principle of the Anti-Deficiency Act by improperly committing taxpayer funds without appropriate authorization,” the letter stated.  “We were also disturbed to learn that the House General Counsel’s office did not seek guidance from the Committee on Ethics regarding the 25 percent discount on non-attorney time provided by the contract, which still provides for more than $500 an hour in attorneys fees to be paid by taxpayers,” the letter continued.

As such, the House Democrats have requested that Boehner instruct the General Counsel to furnish the committee “a list of the hourly rate paid each employee of the Bancroft firm working on the litigation and an explanation on how the blended rate was calculated.


“The American people deserve a fuller explanation about the circumstances surrounding the decision to spend $500,000, and most likely much more, of their tax dollars to defend this indefensible statute,” the letter concluded.

The Hill also notes that Democratic legislators are interested in finding out why neither Democratic members of the Committee on House Administration nor the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group were consulted or even advised on the selection of a legal firm to defend DOMA — nor did they get a chance to review the contract, they say.

Rep. Mike Honda previously raised questions as to the legality of Boehner’s actions in appearing to have committed funds to the defense of DOMA without knowing where those funds will be coming from. Read more on that here.

Boehner has admitted he has no formal estimate on what the final cost of defending DOMA might be, but said that he aims to defund the Department of Justice to the tune of what it will cost, saying: “It is my intent that those funds be diverted to the House for reimbursement of any costs incurred by and associated with the House, and not DOJ, defending DOMA.”

However, the DOJ has said the money that would have gone into defending Section 3 of DOMA has already been otherwise allocated.

A recent Human Rights Campaign poll found that a majority of Americans believe the House should focus on job creation rather than defending DOMA. Read more about that poll here.


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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to Jack Newton.

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2:34PM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

Mark K. just a little history. DOMA has already been defended by the DOJ and found to be unconstitutional by the courts. It is the job of the DOJ to defend the laws of the U.S. but once it has been deemed unconstitutional the DOJ no longer is under obligation to defend it unless they want to. So they said no. Mr. Boehner and his colleagues have decided that they want this law defended even though the court has ruled it unconstitutional. They have no money to do this so they think that the can appropriate money from anywhere and charge the DOJ with it by defunding it to the tune of $500,000.00. The DOJ has already appropriated the money they would have used to fight this in the courts so it isn't available. The President, the Department of Justice and the majority of the American people do not want to spend any further money on a lost cause. This was a poorly written article so I can see your confusion as to what it all meant. The Antideficiency Act disallows him to use money that he doesn't have in his budget. It is actually illegal for him to do that.

11:05AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

@Mark K:
And whos going ensure that the DOJ defends DOMA? Speaker Boehner, by defunding them the amount. You're right, he's not sure about a plan, but that sounds like a conveinent plan to me: I'm a reublican who's agenda doesn't match that of my democrat colleagues, so I'm taking their money to spend it on what i want." That's what it looks like the White House Republican are doing. All these republcans whos aenda is messed up should just resign. In short, MOST OF THEM NEED TO JUST QUIT ALREADY.

5:30PM PDT on May 23, 2011

I don't understand why we need a DOMA. I'd like to wrap my brain around that. Who in hell's Idea was it? I want names here, cause I don't remember.

11:29AM PDT on May 23, 2011

Obviously most of you have NO IDEA what the article is about. The DEMOCRATIC controlled DOJ is going to defend DOMA. Boehner wants to defund DOJ the amount they spend to do so. In other words Boehner and the Republicans in the House do not want the Federal Government to defend this Democrat action meant to keep DOMA in effect.

For Gods sake take a reading comprehension class.

Boehner has admitted he has no formal estimate on what the final cost of defending DOMA might be, but said that he aims to defund the Department of Justice to the tune of what it will cost, saying: "It is my intent that those funds be diverted to the House for reimbursement of any costs incurred by and associated with the House, and not DOJ, defending DOMA."

2:57PM PDT on May 22, 2011

DOMA should be repealled and the money used for more positive uses such as education and job creation.

12:26PM PDT on May 22, 2011

Obviously, the $500 grand is part of the GOP - "Tea" Party Axis and Boehner's job program. After all, it will mean gainful employment (very gainful) for several of their fellow travelers.

For good measure, while they're at it, they can stymie the repeal of DADT, and continue to legislate "morality" - for who more than they could possibly set the examples by which all should (must) live?

9:17PM PDT on May 21, 2011


7:50PM PDT on May 21, 2011

Public funds should not be used to defend this trashy piece of right wing legislation. If Boehner wants to defend it, let him and his cronies on the right wing fork out the cash along with their big donors in the AIPAC.

7:22PM PDT on May 21, 2011

You right Ralph. Lawyers bill an hour for a simple "hello" on the telephone.

6:45PM PDT on May 21, 2011

Boehner is a bonehead.
Someone hand him a glass of Merlot because he is crying AGAIN.

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