The Georgia Tech College Republicans successfully submitted a bill on Tuesday for $1320 to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. The bill will pay for registration fees and travel to the conference. The Graduate Student Senate failed the bill 15-17-1, but the Undergraduate House of Representatives passed it 28-10-6 which allowed the bill to pass the necessary enactment ratio.
According to its website, “CPAC [is] the premiere event for any major elected official or public personality seeking to discuss issues of the day with conservatives.” This year’s conference will include keynotes by Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), former Rep. Newt Gingrich and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
During the Senate meeting Tuesday morning, debate was brief. The only Senator to speak up, AE Sen. Michael Ellis, expressed concern over the fact that no graduates were attending and that it was a networking event.
“As the bill was presented by the organizational representative, I was hesitant to vote yes simply because the bill appeared to violate—or at least stretch—JFC policy regarding political activity,” Ellis said in an email. “In summary, to best represent my constituents and in light of acting with fiscal responsibility, I voted against the bill.”
After the bill was failed, ChBE Sen. Jana Blume and ME Sen. Mihir Pathak spoke out against the lack of debate on the bill. Pathak, the sponsor of the bill and the coordinating officer with UHR, expressed concern that he would have no explanation for why the bill failed in the Senate when presenting to the House.
The Undergraduate Representatives debated at length on the appropriate action to take after College Republican Chairman Kristin Greig told representatives that one fewer student would be traveling with the organization. Representatives spent some time sorting out the implications of this before passing the bill.
“I think there was a lack of communication and misunderstanding from many sides over the bill. Many facets of the bill raised questions, and then there were some procedural issues on the floor of the House. Pieces were unclear from the very beginning with the writing of the bill itself in its line items and then, JFC’s recommendation could not be officially established in the House,” said BC Rep. Grace Stephens.
“Thirteen members will be attending from GTCR. The error occurred due to miscalculation or miscommunication by several parties involved. We are happy with the final outcome,” Grieg said over email when asked about the confusion over the number of students attending.
According to Joint Finance Committee Policy, SGA may not fund “Political Activities,” defined as activities “the primary purpose of which is to support the election or defeat of a candidate for public office or to provide a monetary contribution to a political party.”
Neither Undergraduate Student Body President Corey Boone nor Graduate Student Body President Anthony Baldridge said this information would make them veto the bill.
“I have no intentions on vetoing the bill. The event is a conference, not a political rally. It is my understanding that it is focused on leadership development not mobilizing for a conservative cause.” Boone said in an email.