Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested in a letter Monday that he would redirect funds from the Justice Department to argue for the Defense of Marriage Act in court, drawing a sharp response from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Separately, Boehner’s office also confirmed Monday that Paul Clement, the solicitor general under President George W. Bush, will defend DOMA in court for the House.
“Obviously, DOJ’s decision results in DOJ no longer needing the funds it would have otherwise expended defending the constitutionality of DOMA,” Boehner added. “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.”
Pelosi shot back with another letter, writing that Boehner had failed to answer how much it would cost the House to hire outside counsel to defend DOMA.
It also remains unclear how Boehner would redirect funds from the Justice Department. The department’s budget was cut by $740 million under the recently enacted continuing resolution that funds the government through September.
Pelosi also demanded to know why Democrats on the House Administration Committee were not notified about Clement’s hiring, even though a contract was reportedly forwarded to the panel.
Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese blasted Clement’s hiring, saying in a statement, “Speaker Boehner appears ready to go to great lengths, and the great expense of a high-power law firm, to try to score some cheap political points on the backs of same-sex couples.”
Marge Baker, an executive vice president at People for the American Way, said the hiring of Clement “just seems like such misplaced priorities.”
“The House Republican majority wants to spend who knows how much money from taxpayers to keep gays from enjoying equal rights,” Baker said in a statement. “We should be focusing on jobs.”
The president of the National Organization for Marriage, a nonprofit that opposes gay marriage, applauded selection of the “legal eagle.”
“Thanks to Speaker Boehner’s actions, President Obama’s attempt to sabotage the legal defense of DOMA is not going to work,” NOM President Brian Brown said in a statement.
He added, “Speaker Boehner is also quite right that the money to defend DOMA should be deducted from the Justice Department’s budget, since they will be doing the job DOJ should have done, but refused to do.”
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.