Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Bipartisan" House GOP says: Can you really put a price on the defense of ignorance, bigotry, and hatred?


Why, it's the all-Republican "bipartisan" majority of the
House's "Bipartisan" Legal Advisory Group ("B"LAG)!

"In a statement this week, House Democrats said the agreement was reached in secret and they weren't aware of it until late Monday."
-- Chris Johnson, reporting for the Washington Blade on the
House GOP's secret doubling of the budget for defending DOMA

by Ken

In October I wrote a post asking, "Does anyone believe the now-spent $1.5M is all 'Sunny John' Boehner will ram through for the defense of DOMA ignorance and hatred?"

The $1.5M, you'll recall, was authorized by the House of Representatives' hilariously named Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, whose five members are the speaker and the majority and minority leaders and whips. Now this is math that should be within the grasp of even a Bible-college-degreed Republican. The speaker, the majority leader, and the majority whip are all of one party, and the minority leader and minority whip are both of the other party. Therefore a "majority" vote may easily consist -- as it usually does -- of the three majority-party votes. This is an even more exalted form of "bipartisanship" than the kind usually advocated by Republicans, which consists of offering Democrats the opportunity to sign onto Republican policies.

It was back in October that we learned that the $1.5M "bipartisanly" for defense of the Defense of Marriage Act, following the administration's announcemen that it would no longer defend DOMA in court cases on the ground that it believes the act to be unconstitutional -- had all been spent. That much and possibly more, for which bills were still in the pipeline. (The$1,447,996.73 total of expenses accounted for went only through August 15, and the Right's legal hot shot, Paul Clement, had already logged a fair amount of additional billable time by then.)

In October, House Minority Leader Nancy Pilosi commented:
For more than a year, Speaker Boehner and Congressional Republicans have committed valuable taxpayer dollars to defending discrimination and preserving inequality -- only to lose case after case in their effort to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act. There is nothing effective or efficient about this utter abuse of the people's trust or the public purse; it is simply wasteful and wrong, and Americans deserve better.
At that time the Washington Blade's Chris Johnson speculated:
Now that the cost cap for funding the defense of DOMA has been reached, questions linger about whether House Republicans will raise the cap to continue  defend against DOMA litigation, which is currently pending for considering before the U.S. Supreme Court. A provision in contract enables an increase in the cost cap upon agreement of the parties involved.
Chris appears to have this story pretty much to himself. Today he reports that, finally, the other shoe has dropped.

House GOP cost cap for DOMA defense reaches $3 million

By Chris Johnson on January 15, 2013

House Republicans secretly agreed to raise the cost for defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court to $3 million in the first week that the 113th Congress was sworn into office, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Washington Blade on Tuesday.

The contract, signed by new House Committee on Administration Chair Candace Miller (R-Mich.), allows for expenses to pay for outside counsel to defend DOMA in court to reach $3 million -- a full $1 million more than the previous cost cap agreed to in September. In a statement this week, House Democrats said the agreement was reached in secret and they weren't aware of it until late Monday.

"The General Counsel agrees to pay the Contractor for all services to be rendered pursuant to this Agreement a sum not to exceed $2,750,000.00," the contract states. "It is further understood and agreed that, effective January 4, 2013, the aforementioned $2,750,000.00 cap may be raised from time to time up to, but not exceeding, $3,000,000, upon written notice of the General Counsel to the Contractor specifying that the General Counsel is legally liable under this Agreement for a specific amount." . . .
Apparently this time the House Terrorist majority didn't even bother to use the fig leaf of bipartisanship. BLAG members Nancy Pelosi (the House minority leader) and Steny Hoyer (the minority whip) didn't even know about the doubling of the DOMA sinkhole from $1.5M to $3M. According to Chris Johnson, they "responded to news that the cost cap to defend DOMA was yet again raised and raised in secret with consternation."
In a letter to Boehner dated Jan. 15, they jointly renew their call on House Republicans to discontinue defense of DOMA -- but also made a new call for Republicans to demonstrate their defense of DOMA more transparently -- calling the actions a "clandestine commitment of taxpayer funds”" as well as "highly irregular and objectionable."

"Until Republicans decide to abandon this effort once and for all, we ask you to make your legal plans clear; to make public every contract signed with outside counsel in this case in a timely manner; to declare the total cost of this case to the taxpayers; and to abide by the highest standards of transparency and accountability," Pelosi and Hoyer wrote.

Pelosi and Hoyer emphasize the House defense of DOMA doesn't "reflect the will of the House or the consensus of the BLAG." House Democrats have been filing friend-of-the-court briefs against DOMA before the appellate courts considering the constitutionality of the anti-gay law.
As Chris points out, Speaker Boehner "told the WashingtonBlade last month during a news conference when asked he whether supports raising the cost cap to defend DOMA, 'If the Justice Department is not going to enforce the law of the land, the Congress will.' " But of course in Sunny John we're dealing with a man who is making it a point of honor to get through the entire term of his speakership without ever telling the truth about anything. Very likely if he ever did, he would spontaneously combust into an orange fireball.

Today, Chris reports: "A spokesperson for Boehner deferred questions to the House Committee on Administration [the new contract was indeed signed by the committee's new chair, Candace Miller of Michigan -- Ed.], which didn't immediately respond to a request to comment. It's the first time over the course House Republican defense of DOMA" that Boehner has gone the no-comment route. Or not even, since the speaker's spokesperson wouldn't stick his/her neck out as far as a clear "no comment." Ah yes, a man of deep principle.

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