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The price of hiring former U.S. solicitor general Paul Clement to defend the federal ban on recognizing same-sex marriage could go as high as $1.5 million, according to a new modification of Clement’s contract with the U.S. House of Representatives. The $1.5 million cap is triple the $500,000 cap in the contract Clement signed in April. Clement, who is a partner at the Washington boutique Bancroft, is serving as lead attorney for the House in litigation related to the Defense of Marriage Act. House Republicans hired him over the objections of Democrats after President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. decided not to continue defending the act’s constitutionality in court. Fueling the costs are at least four ongoing marriage-related cases that, according to federal court records, Clement is working on. Records also list two other Bancroft lawyers, H. Christopher Bartolomucci and Conor Dugan. Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), reiterated today that the House would not have needed to hire outside counsel but for the Obama administration’s decision to abandon the marriage law. Republicans want to subtract the cost from the Justice Department’s budget. “The cost of this litigation should and will be borne by the Department of Justice — which is shirking its responsibility to defend the law,” Steel wrote in an e-mail. The contract modification leaves open the possibility of raising the cap beyond $1.5 million. Clement and House General Counsel Kerry Kircher signed the modification on Sept. 29, and House Democrats released it today. Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), called the contract “absolutely unconscionable” given the economy. “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,” Hammill wrote in an e-mail. Clement did not return a call for comment. David Ingram can be contacted at [email protected].

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