Pages Ripped From House After Nearly 200 Years - NBC4 Washington

Pages Ripped From House After Nearly 200 Years



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    A page carries a stack of American flags outside a meeting on Capitol Hill.

    It's been a tradition in Washington for nearly 200 years. And now, it's over.

    The House is ending its page program, which allowed high school students to serve as messengers for lawmakers while getting a front-row seat to learn about Congress.

    The program has existed in some form since the 1820s. The Senate page program, however, will continue.

    What led to the decision to rip the pages out of the House? The death knell for the program was the Internet and e-mail, along with the program's cost.

    Pages, usually high school juniors, are no longer needed to carry packages and documents to members because everything is delivered electronically.

    House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued the following joint statement on the decision:

    "We have great appreciation for the unique role that Pages have played in the history and traditions of the House of Representatives. This decision was not easy, but it is necessary due to the prohibitive cost of the program and advances in technology that have rendered most Page-provided services no longer essential to the smooth functioning of the House. Although the traditional mission of the Page Program has diminished, we will work with Members of the House to carry on the tradition of engaging young people in the work of the Congress."

    A 2008 study said annual costs of the program exceeded $5 million, not including capital costs associated with the page dormitory and school, where the teenagers attend classes.

    The program will end Aug. 31.

    Boehner and Pelosi asked the House historian to prepare an official history of the House Page Program as a tribute to the many pages, members of Congress and congressional staff who have contributed to the program over the years.