The House has set a salary cap of $500,000 for the outside counsel it has hired to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court, according to a contract signed late last week.

Paul D. Clement, a former Bush administration solicitor general who has been tapped by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to lead the House’s legal defense of DOMA, will work at a rate of $520 an hour, to be paid by the House General Counsel.

The contract, dated April 14, was signed by Clement, who now works as a partner at the King & Spalding law firm; House General Counsel Kerry Kircher; and Committee on House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.).

The $500,000 cap is only a tentative one, however; the contract states that the cap may be “raised by written agreement between the parties with the approval of the Committee.” The contract also indicates that the House’s agreement with Clement will expire at noon Jan. 3, 2013, or when the litigation is complete, whichever comes first.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), denounced the House’s intervention on DOMA on Tuesday.

“The hypocrisy of this legal boondoggle is mind-blowing,” Hammill said in a statement. “Speaker Boehner is spending half a million dollars of taxpayer money to defend discrimination. If Republicans were really interested in cutting spending, this should be at the top of the list.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel defended the House’s action and pointed the finger at the Obama administration.

“Obviously, this whole thing would be unnecessary if the White House and the Justice Department would do their job and defend a law that was passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by the President of the United States – a Democratic President, at that,” Steel said.

The full contract, which was provided by a House Democratic source, can be found here.