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Posted at 05:40 PM ET, 10/04/2011

House raises salary cap for DOMA lawyer to $1.5 million

Five months after House Republicans announced that they had set a $500,000 salary cap for the lawyer hired to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, a revised contract shows that the pay limit has been lifted to three times that amount.

According to a new contract dated Sept. 30, a revised salary cap of $1.5 million has been set for Paul D. Clement, the former Bush administration solicitor general who was tapped in April by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to lead the House’s defense of DOMA in court. A copy of the new contract was provided by a House Democratic aide.

The original contract stated that Clement would be paid at a rate of $520 per hour with a salary cap of $500,000, although that amount could be “raised by written agreement between the parties with the approval of the [Committee on House Administration].”

Boehner announced in March that the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group — a five-member panel comprising the chamber’s top three Republicans and top two Democrats — had voted to instruct the House General Counsel to defend DOMA, the federal law banning recognition of same-sex marriage.

The move came one month after President Obama instructed the Justice Department to no longer defend the constitutionality of the law.

On Tuesday, Democrats pounced on the news of Clement’s revised salary cap.

“It is absolutely unconscionable that Speaker Boehner is tripling the cost for his legal boondoggle to defend the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act,” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said in a statement. “At a time when Americans are hurting and job creation should be the top priority, it just shows how out of touch House Republicans have become that they would spend up to $1.5 million dollars to defend discrimination in our country.”

House Administration Committee Democrats said that they were “disappointed” by the news and argued that “further spending to defend DOMA is simply unconscionable.”

“This ongoing expense is a complete waste of taxpayer money,” Reps. Bob Brady (D-Pa.), Charlie Gonzales (D-Texas) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “We call on the Republican Leadership to explain why they will invest in protecting discrimination and how any of this can put Americans back to work.”

Boehner’s office defended the move and renewed the speaker’s call for the Justice Department to pay for the cost of the House’s legal defense of DOMA.

“The cost of this litigation should and will be borne by the Department of Justice — which is shirking its responsibility to defend the law,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said.

By  |  05:40 PM ET, 10/04/2011

 
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