The Corner

DOMA in the House

On the Defense of Marriage Act, today we advised the House GOP to defend DOMA in court, since the executive branch won’t: “John Boehner, the speaker of the House, should arrange for his legislative body to hire counsel to defend the act in court, now that the administration has first revealed and then proclaimed its lack of interest in doing so.”

Matthew Spalding of the Heritage Foundation agrees: House Republicans “should pursue the idea of intervening in the case and defend the law now that the administration has stepped out.” He views the possibility of the House staying quiet or deferring to other branches as a “worst case” for the law. 

But why did the Obama administration announce its refusal to defend DOMA yesterday? To distract congressional Republicans from their spending-cuts message, some on Capitol Hill suspect.

A senior leadership aide tells me their focus on seeing the continuing resolution through — with cuts — remains clear at the moment. That doesn’t mean the House won’t pursue the issue of defending the marriage law, especially since House Democrats promise to fight for a legislative end to DOMA. But while the White House may be trying to get Republicans to appear to take their eyes off the ball on jobs and spending, Republicans don’t plan to, the source tells me.

The Republican House leadership wants to cut spending next week without shutting the government. They believe that’s what they were elected to do and what Americans continue to want them to do. That’s where their focus is in the short term.  

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