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Campus Notebook: GAO Union Prepares for Decision on Cost Cuts

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The California Democrat was critical in April of Republican leadership’s $500,000 contract with Bancroft PLLC to defend the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, which was done when the Justice Department said it would no longer do so.

He was silent earlier in the month when it was revealed that the contract would be increased to $1.5 million.

However, on Tuesday, in his capacity as ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, Honda sent a letter to subcommittee Chairman Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.) requesting a panel hearing on the process by which the legal arrangements were made.

“In a time of professed fiscal responsibility, it is unconscionable ... to spend taxpayer money to protect discrimination, especially through a process that has ... lacked any semblance of transparency,” Honda wrote to Crenshaw. “I ask that you immediately hold a hearing on this matter so we can shine light on this irresponsible, backdoor use of taxpayer money.”

When news broke of the more expensive contract, many senior Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), deplored the move as a waste of taxpayer dollars.

On Tuesday, Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), reiterated that the cost could ultimately fall on the Justice Department’s shoulders — Congress sets the agency’s yearly budget and could give it a future allocation to reflect the House’s current legal fees.

“The Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group voted to defend the law in court after the Justice Department chose to shirk its constitutional duty to do so,” Steel said. “As we have always said, the entire cost should be borne by that Department.”

Crenshaw’s office was unable to comment by press time.

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