Boehner: Budget-obsessed, except when it comes to DOMA

April 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm 15 comments

By Adam Bink

So here we are barreling along towards a federal government shutdown. Boehner got the House to vote to defund Planned Parenthood and push to defund NPR and PBS, whose budgets amount to a tiny percentage of taxpayer dollars.

But when it comes to how much they will have to pay attorneys to defend an unconstitutional law, when the House General Counsel admitted his office did not have the “personnel or the budget” to do so, he has no idea. The Washington Blade:

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday he doesn’t have an estimate for the cost of the House defense of the Defense of Marriage Act in court as he maintained congressional action was necessary to uphold the anti-gay statute.

During a news conference on Capitol Hill, Boehner said he doesn’t have information on the expenses for defending DOMA — including the cost of any private attorneys — when asked by the Washington Blade about these expenses as well as any planned oversight on these costs.

“I do not have an estimate,” Boehner said. “But we were placed in a position where we were in effect allowing the administration to determine the constitutionality of a bill that passed the United States Congress because they were unwilling to defend it. I don’t think the House had any choice but to take the position that we were going to defend the work that the Congress — and only the courts are in the position of determining the constitutionality of any bill.”

Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, blasted Boehner for not having the cost on defending DOMA readily available.

“For a speaker so obsessed with budgets and cost cutting, it’s laughable that he claims not to know what hiring outside attorneys will cost the American public,” Cole-Schwartz said. “If the Speaker is going to force taxpayers to defend discrimination, it’s reasonable that the public understand what the bill will be.”

Cole-Schwartz cited recent HRC polling that found 51 percent of Americans oppose DOMA and added most people want to see House Republicans address economic issues rather than defend DOMA.

“Given that a majority of Americans oppose DOMA and would rather see the Republican leadership tackle jobs and the economy, it’s not surprising that he won’t come clean on this or a number of other unanswered questions about the cases,” Cole-Schwartz said.

Boehner directed the House general counsel to defend DOMA against litigation after the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group on March 9 voted 3-2 along party lines to take up defense of the statute. The move followed President Obama’s announcement on Feb. 23 that DOMA is unconstitutional and that the Justice Department would no longer defend the law against litigation.

On March 11, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Boehner asking him to provide an estimate on the total cost of defending the law — noting that the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group approved a resolution allowing for the House general counsel to hire private lawyers. Drew Hammill, a Pelosi spokesperson, she her office as of Thursday has yet to receive a response to the letter.

“The General Counsel indicated that he lacked the personnel and the budget to absorb those substantial litigation duties,” Pelosi wrote. “It is important that the House receive an estimate of the cost to taxpayers for engaging private lawyers to intervene in the pending DOMA cases. It is also important that the House know whether the BLAG, the General Counsel, or a Committee of the House have the responsibility to monitor the actions of the outside lawyers and their fees.”

When it comes to this, we are all taxpayers. And this is one of a few people in charge of our money.

Entry filed under: DOMA trials.

Keeping our community healthy, vibrant and accountable With adoption campaign, NOM is now officially an anti-gay group

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ed Cortes  |  April 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    So much for fiscal responsibility! Also of note is that the President didn’t decide that a law passed by congress is unconstitutional, Federal Courts (in several cases) did!

    • 2. JonT  |  April 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      Yes… I’m sure defunding planned parenthood, PBS and NPR will save trillions!

      Maybe we’ll save enough for a new war! Can never have enough of those!

      /eye roll

  • 3. Sagesse  |  April 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    On a related note, with last ditch attempts going on all day to avoid a government shut down and agree on a budget, a House committee is taking time out of its busy schedule to harangue the four service chiefs about DADT repeal, which by all accounts is moving along without incident.

  • 4. Straight for Equality  |  April 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    • 5. LCH  |  April 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm


      • 6. Ann S.  |  April 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm


  • 7. Larry Little  |  April 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Why is it there is no money for Planned Parenthood, education, Medicare, Social Security, but there seems to be plenty of money to defend a blatantly discriminatory DOMA?
    It makes me enraged to understand the Republicans are attacking the bodies of men and women in their assault on the deficit and I have to wonder how many jobs it will produce.
    Why is there billions of dollars for corporations and huge tax breaks for the rich in the budget that destroys the middle class?…….The people in this country better get their acts together during the next election or the the Republicans will reduce all employment to minimum wage and turn health care over to the insurance companies (except health care for women which has been eliminated) with the failure to fund Planned Parenthood.

  • 8. Jon  |  April 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    He sure do love him some Constitution.

    Except he’s not quite sure which document that one is:

    Perhaps that might be written off as merely a slip of the tongue. What matters of course is principles, right? Like in this example:

    Perhaps sobbing John could explain which Constitutional principle that exemplified.

    No, of course there’s no way John’s words can be reconciled with his actions. So pay no attention to the words: it’s the actions that speak honestly. John’s actions are: he carries a lot of water for big business including the dirtiest business there is, a business whose product has killed 14 million customers. He’s about money and power, and how the former buys the latter.

    Now: if it makes you feel any better, he’s not fighting for DOMA because he cares about it. He’s just sending blood to right wing loyalists, because they vote in the folks who deliver the law that big business likes. This is nicely explained by Thomas Franks:'s_the_Matter_with_Kansas%3F

    The short version: right wing politicians get their base fired up on cultural issues like DOMA as a smokescreen.

    Now: is it right that marriage equality is a political pawn? Uh, no. It’s wrong.

  • 9. JoeRH  |  April 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Is his last name pronounced “boner” because it really should be. Like that one amusing sign along the NOM tour- “Only Fags Hate Gay Marriage.” “Boner” certainly is the definition a fag. I never associate “fag” with gay, but rather as some male I consider to be acting like a little bitch. This man needs his ass to be kicked and I’d loooooove to be a part of it.

    • 10. Judy  |  April 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      I think it’s pronounced “Bayne -er”.

  • 11. Richard A. Jernigan  |  April 7, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    Hey, Weeper of the House Boehner! You might want to look at the fact that it was at least two different federal justices in at least two different federal circuits who have ruled DOMA unconstitutional. And since part of your job is to defend the Constitution, you might want to listen to them. Or are you afraid that without DOMA, your boyfriend will be able to sue you for palimony?

  • 12. Kathleen  |  April 7, 2011 at 4:21 pm

  • 13. Michael  |  April 7, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Radical conservatives want to get rid of Medicare, the Dept. of Education, NPR, PBS, the EPA, and all social spending such as education so that they can continue giving tax cuts to the rich. If there is no money for any of these things, why is there money to promote homophobia? We should be marching in the street over these kinds of things. Otherwise soon, there will be nothing left to defend and the Republican Corporationists will completey control our nation with only one priority: making more money for the rich and letting the rest of us fend for ourselves.

  • 14. Ronnie  |  April 8, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Subscribing to read later & sharing…..

    video: ‎”My guess is you won’t see much change at all, because the whole thrust of the training is you’re supposed to go on treating everybody like you’re supposed to be treating everybody now — with dignity, respect, and discipline.” ~ Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates in Iraq talking to the troops about the implementation of DADT repeal…..<3…Ronnie:

  • 15. Guest  |  April 8, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Someone on Joe My God made a good comment, that what happens if the government shuts down (perhaps all the way up until April 18?) regarding their DOMA defense? Can’t use federal money, though I think Congress might be an exception?


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