Pelosi Claims DOMA Defense Could Be Costly

Posted March 11, 2011 at 4:18pm

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday invoked a frequently cited GOP concern — money — in speaking out against Republican leaders’ decision to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

In a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the California Democrat noted that instructing the House general counsel to hire private lawyers to help defend the law in up to 10 pending cases could be a costly endeavor. She said House Members should receive a cost estimate before allowing the counsel to hire outside help, and it still must be determined who would be responsible for paying any legal bills.

“The American people want Congress to be working on the creation of jobs and ensuring the continued progress of our economic recovery rather than involving itself unnecessarily in such costly and divisive litigation,” Pelosi wrote.

The letter comes two days after House leaders adopted a resolution to intervene in pending cases challenging the 1996 law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman. Boehner convened the Wednesday night meeting of the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group in response to President Barack Obama’s recent announcement that DOMA was unconstitutional and that the Department of Justice would stop defending it in court. GOP leaders blasted the decision, noting the law was passed under Democratic President Bill Clinton.

Pelosi also stated in her letter that outside groups will continue to defend the interests of DOMA supporters in pending court cases, therefore making the House’s involvement duplicative and unnecessary. “No institutional purpose is served by having the House of Representatives intervene in this litigation which will consume 18 months or longer,” she said.

The members of the bipartisan group who considered the resolution Wednesday were Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). Cantor offered the resolution that all three Republicans supported and both Democrats opposed.