WASHINGTON -- House Republicans may have complained loudly during the "fiscal cliff" debate about the need to rein in government spending, but that didn't stop them from agreeing Wednesday night to sink even more money into defending the federal ban on recognizing gay marriage.
A GOP source told The Huffington Post that, during a closed-door meeting of the House Republican Conference, lawmakers gave a green light to including language in the 113th Congress rules package that authorizes the House legal team, known as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), to keep paying outside counsel to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The proposed House rules package also states that BLAG continues to "speak for" the House in its defense of DOMA.
HuffPost obtained a copy of the draft language, which is expected to pass the full House on Thursday when the 113th Congress begins:
(1) CONTINUING AUTHORITY FOR THE BIPARTISAN LEGAL ADVISORY GROUP.
(A) The House authorizes the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the 113th Congress --
(i) to act as successor in interest to the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the 112th Congress with respect to civil actions in which it intervened in the 112th Congress to defend the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (1 U.S.C. 7) or related provisions of titles 10, 31, and 38, United States Code, including in the case of Windsor v. United States, 833 F. Supp.2d 394 (S.D.N.Y. June 6, 2012), aff'd, 699 F.3d 169 (2d Cir. Oct. 18, 2012), cert. granted, No. 12–307 (Dec. 7, 2012), cert. pending No. 12–63 (July 16, 2012) and 12-ll (Dec.___2012);
(ii) to take such steps as may be appropriate to ensure continuation of such civil actions; and
(iii) to intervene in other cases that involve a challenge to the constitutionality of section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act or related provisions of titles 10, 31, and 38, United States Code.
(B) Pursuant to clause 8 of rule II, the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group continues to speak for, and articulate the institutional position of, the House in all litigation matters in which it appears, including in Windsor v. United States.
Windsor v. United States is a reference to a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit earlier affirmed a lower court ruling that found Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional.
The GOP source noted that the addition of DOMA-related language to the House rules package is new.
House Republican leaders have been defending DOMA in court since February 2011, when Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would no longer do so because it found the law to be unconstitutional. The House has already spent at least $1.5 million defending the gay marriage ban. The Supreme Court, the ultimate arbiter on constitutional matters, announced last month that it was putting Windsor v. United States on its docket this term.
UPDATE: 10:20 a.m. -- A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday slammed Republicans for taking "the extraordinary measure" of using the opening day rules package of the new Congress to authorize themselves to keep defending DOMA.
"Today, House Republicans will send a clear message to LGBT families: their fiscal responsibility mantra does not extend to their efforts to stand firmly on the wrong side of the future," said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.
Hammill also noted that the rules package "for the first time" explicitly states that BLAG speaks for the full House on DOMA matters -- something he said is definitely not the case.
"As House Democrats have time and time again made clear, the BLAG does not speak for all Members of the House of Representatives and we will continue to oppose this wasteful use of taxpayer funds to defend DOMA," he said.
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