Guys, these are really tough economic times, and according to legislators, we're all going to have to tighten our belts! Unless of course, you're a high-priced lawyer who's helping Republicans discriminate against gays. In that case, the House has $1.5 million with your name on it.
In April, House Republicans hired Paul Clement, a solicitor general under President Bush, to lobby to maintain the Defense of Marriage Act after President Obama said the Justice Department should stop defending it. The contract between House and Clement's law firm put a $500,000 cap on how much it would spend to defend the law. At the time, it was unclear what exactly that entailed. It turns out, that's because it didn't mean anything.
The Washington Post reports that a contract signed on Friday raises Clement's salary cap to $1.5 million. The original agreement stated that the amount could be "raised by written agreement between the parties with the approval of the [Committee on House Administration]." Now the Republican-led House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (or BLAG, which is a pretty good term for the yakking sound we associate with DOMA) has simply decided to raise the cap.
Nancy Pelosi's office condemned the move, saying:
"It is absolutely unconscionable that Speaker Boehner is tripling the cost for his legal boondoggle to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act. At a time when Americans are hurting and job creation should be the top priority, it just shows how out of touch House Republicans have become that they would spend up to $1.5 million dollars to defend discrimination in our country."
Boehner's office defended the move by reiterating that it's only stepping up to defend the law because the DOJ is shirking its duties. Boehner hopes to make the DOJ reimburse the House for the cost of hiring Clement, but it doesn't really make a difference because taxpayers are footing the bill either way. (And don't try to start a push to prevent your tax dollars from funding a policy you don't approve of, because only Republicans are allowed to do that.)
Three Democratic representatives, Bob Brady, Charlie Gonzales, and Zoe Lofgren issued a statement calling the defense of DOMA, "a complete waste of taxpayer money." They added, "We call on the Republican Leadership to explain why they will invest in protecting discrimination and how any of this can put Americans back to work." Well, it is creating work for Clement, so that proves the House Republicans are dedicated to keeping Americans employed (unless they're like, poor).
House Raises Salary Cap For DOMA Lawyer To $1.5 million [Washington Post]