The new 113th Congress begins today with the election of Republican John Boehner of Ohio as Speaker and Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, as minority leader. (Boehner is in no apparent danger of being ousted, despite Eric Cantor’s lusting after the job, Boehner’s humiliation on the fiscal cliff negotiation, not to mention the disastrous refusal and quick backtrack on Sandy relief that drew the wrath of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. See earlier posts.)
One of the first acts of the Republican leadership is to continue their $1.7 million defense of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, despite the defeat of one of its champions, former Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Sacramento.
DOMA is under Supreme Court review, and as we know, the Obama administration abandoned its DOMA defense nearly a year ago, after which it was taken up by House Republicans.
Amid signs of Republican softening on immigration and even gay rights in the wake of election losses, Republicans buried the DOMA provision in their rules package, making no mention of it publicly. That left the field wide open to Democrats to hammer away.
Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said the GOP “fiscal responsibility mantra does not extend to their efforts to stand firmly on the wrong side of the future. Republicans will take the extraordinary measure of including an authorization of their efforts to defend DOMA in the Rules of the House of Representatives and by doing so, continue to spend taxpayer funds, already adding up to $1.7 million, in their attempts to defend this shameful law in federal courts and the Supreme Court.”
Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, lambasted Republicans for not allowing an up-or-down majority vote on a stand-alone DOMA defense, instead of hiding it in the rules package.
“On this defining issue of our time, House Republicans are continuing to fight for discrimination and using the Rules package to make it seem as if all Members of the House feel that way,” Honda said in a statement.