House ends page program

The U.S. House of Representatives has turned the page on its well-known program that uses high school students to deliver messages and documents to members of Congress and their committees.

In a joint email, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the House will shut its page program down on Aug. 31 to save $5 million a year plus the cost of housing the pages, who live in a dormitory near the U.S. Capitol, and educating them in their own private school. The school costs $69,000 to $80,000 a year per page, according to the Associated Press.

The 200-year-old program, which gives about 70 high school students at a time the opportunity to work in Congress for a semester during their junior year or for several weeks in the summer, aims to teach students about public service, according to the Hill newspaper.

While the pages, who wear navy blazers and grey trousers while working, were once “stretched to the limit” with delivery requests, Boehner and Pelosi said, now that lawmakers communicate via email and text, they are “severely underutilized.

Scandal-watchers will be sorry to see the program go, since it’s generated some interesting headlines over the past decades. The AP notes:

In 1983, the House censured Republican Dan Crane of Illinois and Democrat Gerry Studds of Massachusetts for sexual relationships with pages; Crane with a young woman and Studds with a young man.

More recently, in 2006, Republican Mark Foley of Florida resigned in disgrace after it was learned he had sexually suggestive e-mail communications with former male pages.

Notable graduates of the House page program include former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, CBS News reports.

A similar program for Senate pages will continue.