House Republicans are edging closer to the $2 million mark in their defense of the 1996 law that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
CQ Roll Call first reported that House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) signed off on a $500,000 increase in funds for the contract with the private law firm hired by House Republicans to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
What's more, the increase in taxpayer dollars set aside to defend DOMA was approved Sept. 28, but not revealed to the public or House Democrats until this week. According to a statement released by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Lungren only shared the release with Democratic committee members on Thursday.
Nearly three weeks after Lungren's decision and without any knowledge the cap on DOMA's defense had been raised to $2 million, House Democrats criticized House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Oct. 16 as GOP legal bills approached $1.5 million for standing on "the wrong side of history at taxpayer expense."
In a statement released yesterday, Pelosi echoed those criticisms, arguing that the decision to hide the contract from voters in the midst of an election season was a "cynical move at best, and a betrayal of the public trust at worst."
"Here they go again," Pelosi stated. "It's bad enough that Speaker Boehner and House Republicans are wasting taxpayer dollars to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act – and losing in every case. Now, they have reached a new low – signing a secret contract to spend more public money on their legal boondoggle without informing Democrats. Their actions are simply unconscionable; their decisions are utterly irresponsible."
The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, which is controlled by Republicans, has been at the forefront of defending DOMA since the Obama administration’s February 2011 decision to stop defending the law on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. With the Supreme Court's decision to hear arguments on DOMA, Pelosi said "there is no end in sight for the Republican legal effort."
Just hours before Thursday's revelation, Boehner declined to say if the $1.5 million cap would be raised now that DOMA is before the Supreme Court.
"If the Justice Department is not going to enforce the law of the land, the Congress will," Boehner said before ending a press conference with reporters.
[Photo: John Boehner (left) and Dan Lungren (Courtesy of the House of Representatives).]