On Tuesday, Feb. 5, a fiercely-contested bill to fund the College Republicans’ annual trip to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was defeated at the SGA Senate, following a debate on the Senate floor the previous week.
The bill, Bill 19:02 [S] Emergency Funding for College Republicans to Attend CPAC, was initially introduced to the senate floor on Jan. 29, when SGA Treasurer Thomas “Jake” Miller invoked the senate’s rarely-used debate mode to discuss issues with the bill. Miller expressed concerns about the use of senate bills to fund clubs, stating that the club had already received $550 from the fund appeals process for this purpose. “To have them come [after fund appeals], and ask for the full percentage of what they needed for the trip was unfair to other clubs, who almost always receive 50% of the funding that they ask for,” Miller explained.
Perriello argued that the CPAC trip was funded last year in the same manner, by Bill 18:01 Funds for CPAC, sponsored by Miller, and that networking opportunities during the conference have lead to students getting employed by Political Action Committees and party members. “I know there are a couple of St. Mary’s grads that went to this conference last year and are now employed, thanks to the job fair at the conference,” Perriello told TPN, “I thought it had a lot of benefits, I thought it deserved the pass the senate.”
Miller, however, noted that the bill he sponsored last year only requested $720 to fund the event, whereas this year’s bill would fund the club with $2,359 from the SGA special carryover fund. Following the debate, voting on the bill was tabled until Feb. 5.
During the student speakout portion of the next meeting, College Republicans president Grayson McNew read three statements from College Republicans members who had expressed interest in attending the conference, or had previously attended it. The statements showcased the opportunities that attending CPAC has opened for members, and the importance of the trip to College Republicans members. McNew, in his own statement, argued that there have been “2, maybe 3” conservative speakers at St. Mary’s in his time here, asking the senate “is that fair?” Four members of the College Republicans also attended the meeting in support of the bill.
Before voting began, Sen. Marie Lewis (WC) revoked her co-sponsorship of the bill. Several amendments to the bill were presented during the meeting, first lowering the cost to $1,427, then ultimately lowering the amount of funds to be allocated down to a total of $477. The amendments failed to pass the senate, with 10 voting members voting Nay. The final bill also failed to pass the senate.
SGA meetings are open to the public, the senate meets in the Glendenning Annex at 8:15p.m. every Tuesday.