House Democrats ripped GOP leadership Wednesday for spending millions defending the Defense of Marriage Act after the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that it violated the Constitution.
“It’s an outrage that they would use their status as the majority party to waste taxpayer money,” said freshman Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., an openly gay member of Congress, as he stood in front of the Supreme Court on Wednesday. “It’s really clear now that Republicans wasted that money … instead of focusing on jobs and the economy.”
House Democrats said the GOP spent $2.3 million on outside lawyers after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced the Justice Department would no longer defend DOMA in court. They also noted that the Congressional Budget Office has scored repealing DOMA as reducing the deficit by $450 million a year.
“It’s very expensive to fight history and to fight these kinds of movements for justice and equality and history has proven that,” echoed Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who also walked across the lawn between the Capitol and the Supreme Court to celebrate with the throngs of activists. “[Republicans] can spend all the time they want, they can demonstrate all they want, but … you can’t buy it.”
The money to defend DOMA comes out of the annual legislative branch appropriations budget, which Democrats say is already cut so thin it’s difficult to do their work and serve their constituents.
But Speaker John A. Boehner, who expressed his disappointment in the court ruling in a statement of his own, has said from the beginning that he suspected the Department of Justice would one day be asked to shoulder the cost through its own account, and a GOP leadership aide on Wednesday suggested the speaker still believed this to be the case.
Republicans “have always said that DoJ should be defending DOMA – because it is the executive branch’s responsibility under the Constitution,” the aide said in an email to CQ Roll Call. “Since they didn’t, we had to.”
The money could potentially come out of the fiscal 2014 appropriations budget for Commerce, Justice and Science, though aides with the House Appropriations Committee Democrats questioned whether that would happen.
“It could have been done through CJS the last two years and hasn’t,” an aide told CQ Roll Call, adding that there was no schedule yet for when the fiscal 2014 bill might be marked up.
Matt Fuller contributed to this report.