DOMA Defense By House Republican Leaders Has Cost Nearly $1.5 Million

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, meets with reporters as Congress prepares to shut down until after the elections i
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, meets with reporters as Congress prepares to shut down until after the elections in November, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 21, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders have spent nearly all of the $1.5 million they allotted themselves to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, according to new figures revealed Tuesday by a House committee.

Democrats on the House Administration Committee released a report showing that the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), which took over the legal defense of DOMA after the Obama administration stopped defending it in Feb. 2011, has spent a total of $1,447,996.73. That means that House Republican leaders have effectively spent all the money they allotted themselves: BLAG members House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last year signed a $1.5 million contract with attorney Paul Clement to represent them in cases involving DOMA, or the federal ban on same-sex marriage.

To date, Republican leaders have intervened in 14 DOMA cases. They have lost five in a row.

House Democratic leaders pounced on the latest numbers as proof of wasted taxpayer money.

"For more than a year, Speaker Boehner and Congressional Republicans have committed valuable taxpayer dollars to defending discrimination and preserving inequality, only to lose case after case," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement. "It is time for the Speaker and Congressional Republicans to drop their frivolous, taxpayer-funded lawsuits without any delay. When they do, we will all look forward to the day when DOMA is relegated to the dustbin of history once and for all.”

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) criticized Boehner for ignoring "critical issues like comprehensive jobs legislation" while wasting "time and taxpayer money defending the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act."

"Despite losing multiple court cases, Speaker Boehner continues to insist on racking up even more taxpayer-funded legal bills, even as Republicans claim to be concerned about the deficit," Hoyer said in a statement.

It remains unclear if House Republican leaders plan to extend their contract with Clement -- and spend more taxpayer dollars -- to continue defending DOMA. They maintain they are obligated to defend current law, regardless of what it is. A Boehner spokesman deferred all DOMA-related questions to Clement. A request for comment from Clement was not immediately returned.

The Supreme Court is expected to be the ultimate arbiter on the issue. All eyes will be on the high court on Nov. 19, when the justices announce the next set of cases they plan to hear.



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