House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday accused Speaker John Boehner of failing to coordinate with his Democratic colleagues on hiring counsel to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Earlier in the day, Boehner (R-Ohio) sent a letter to Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging her to join him in cutting Department of Justice funds and then using that money to retain counsel to defend the DOMA. A few hours later, Boehner's office confirmed to The Hill that former Bush administration Solicitor General Paul Clement had been hired to defend DOMA on behalf of Congress.
In her response, Pelosi wrote that Boehner never informed her of the cost to hire a litigator to defend DOMA, which blocks the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. Pelosi also wrote that even though a copy of Clement's contract was forwarded to the the Committee on House Administration, Democrats on the committee did not receive it.
"I would like to know when the contract with Mr. Clement was signed, and why a copy was not provided to Democrats on the committee," Pelosi said.
The back-and-forth between Pelosi and Boehner comes a month after the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) authorized an outside counsel to be retained to defend DOMA. That authorization came in response to President Obama's decision to order the Justice Department to stop defending the constitutionality of the act. Pelosi sent a letter a few days afterward asking Boehner how much it would cost to hire a litigator.
Boehner's letter on Monday argued the DOJ funds that would have been used to defend DOMA should instead be used by the House so taxpayers wouldn't have to bear the burden.
"Obviously, DOJ’s decision results in DOJ no longer needing the funds it would have otherwise expended defending the constitutionality of DOMA," Boehner wrote in his letter. "It is my intent that those funds be diverted to the House for reimbursement of any costs incurred by and associated with the House, and not DoJ, defending DOMA."
Pelosi also noted in her letter that she agrees with Obama and the DOJ the law is unconstitutional.
"You note that President Obama and Attorney General Holder have determined that DOMA is unconstitutional, a conclusion I share, and have declined to engage in further judicial proceedings in defense of the law," Pelosi wrote.