Boehner and Pelosi end House page program
August 8th, 2011
05:07 PM ET
7 years ago

Boehner and Pelosi end House page program

Washington (CNN) - House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Monday they are ending the House page program, which employs about 70 high school age students each semester and summer to study in Washington and serve as messengers around the Capitol complex.

The program, instituted in the 1820s, has come under fire several times for scandals involving inappropriate contact with members, as well as underage drinking and drug use. In 2006 reports surfaced that then Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley had sent several inappropriate messages of a sexual nature to former House pages.

Foley resigned shortly after the email messages were revealed, but an ethics committee investigation ensued and a separate review of the page program, itself. Leaders added new oversight responsibilities for the "page board," made up of members of Congress and others who oversee the program.

Boehner and Pelosi notified House members Monday that they began a comprehensive review of the program by independent consultants in 2008 and decided to end it after the current summer session because the page program is too expensive and no longer needed.

In a joint statement, the two top House leaders explained, "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."

The two leaders noted, as examples, that pages are no longer needed to deliver packages all over Capitol Hill because so many documents are sent electronically; and they're no longer relied on to relay phone messages to lawmakers on the House floor because members tend to use their Blackberries.

The leaders' review found that the program cost over $5 million a year to administer, not including the costs of housing the students at the nearby dormitory on Capitol Hill, plus the cost of the school the high school juniors are required to attend at the Library of Congress.

At a time when Congress is struggling to reduce spending, including cutting its own costs, the "per page" cost of $69,000 to $80,000 per school year was a steep number to sustain. In addition to taking classes, pages get paid a monthly salary for their work fielding messages and running errands for members during House sessions.

Both leaders pledged to include other ways for young people to engage in Congress' work but did not mention any specific plans.

Several current members of Congress served as pages, including the current Dean of the House, Michigan Democrat John Dingell.

According to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's office, the program for Senate pages will continue.

Filed under: House • John Boehner • Nancy Pelosi
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    Goodness what are the rethugs going to do for fun now?

    August 8, 2011 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  2. Sebastian Kent

    Why is Nancy Pelosi's name associated with this? This action was taken under the leadership of Speaker Boehner. He should get whatever credit or blame accrues from it.

    August 8, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. Rick

    Smart decision. Great idea but it outlived its financial viability. Thats obscene the cost they were paying per page.

    August 8, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Not Much Longer Now

    It is absolutely amazing to watch Dems act & react to the inevitable......the end of Welfare & Entitlements in America as we know them today! One word describes all Liberal Democrats, of which our President is Number One;
    1. Blame Others
    2. Solution: Tax More
    3. Promise More Entitlements/Welfare
    But this time , it won't work......why not?
    1. People know where blame goes, doesn' change our predicament.
    2. If all wealthy people pay 90% of their income in taxes, that still would not be enough to cover simply what we owe, much less a Government mandated Public Health Care System.
    3. Promises of more handouts will/are a moot point.....totally irrevelent!
    If you want financial stability in this great country, vote AGAINST Obambi in 2012!

    August 8, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. Jordan

    As a former page this is really sad. This program was such an amazing experience and has opened so many doors for so many people. The country has lost a very valuable program.

    August 8, 2011 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. Jordan

    Oh, and the picture associated with the article is of Senate pages... There is kind of a huge difference.

    August 8, 2011 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. gt

    stop government

    August 8, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. Four and The Door

    It's not a huge or even large savings in terms of Washington expenses, but it is another sign that John Boehner walks the talk.

    August 8, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. Ibamaliar

    Is this what it takes to be a Congressman. To be one step away from a moron. They are not anything but pedifiers. It is definitely time for a clean house. We must clean up Washington. I say don't vote for any incumberent and change the pay salaries and the benefits. Make it a job worth having but not a job to retire on after two terms as a millionaire. I say a third of their base salary would be a great gratuity for no longer than they'll be there since they'll only serve two terms. Or do them like servine in the military. Make their qualifications be a college grad and they sign up to serve like the military wth only a smaller amount higher in salary than the military. The Presidents job should be only the highest level of the General Schedule of government employees. Do not forget after all he does work for us. So they can drop their high handed attitudes.

    August 8, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  10. Bildo

    This is like getting rid of children going to church so that priests do not do anything improper to them.

    August 8, 2011 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  11. The Greedy Old Pigs have declared class war on US!

    Wow, Not Much Longer Now, that's a heapin' helpin' of GOBP lies crammed into one little post. No mention of the corporate welfare queens who are costing our budget an arm and leg? No mention of the fact that the vast majority of Americans do not want our social safety net shredded? No mention that S&P specifically mentioned DC's refusal to increase revenues as the reason for the downgrade? No mention of the fact that ACA is NOT public health care because it remains in the hands of private insurance companies?

    You are clearly deluded or just a card-carrying member of the corrupt corporatist cult that cares only for the greedy and not the needy. Your family must be quite proud to be related to someone as devoid of basic humanity and decency.

    August 8, 2011 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  12. Clyde

    Fine. Now Congress and the President & Michelle need to cut their staff by half. Government needs to cut their staff all around. Too much waste for too long. And quit giving billions to the Islams to repair their mosques. In fact, quit giving aid to all nations that dislike the USA and bring home our military personnel from all over the world. We should not be the world's police force. Quit these darn wars which are breaking our finances.

    Perhaps we need to get another form of government as the one we now have just does not work anymore.

    August 8, 2011 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Finally.......a proposal from Congress that makes total sense.

    August 8, 2011 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. Randy, San Francisco

    It wasn't the cost of the program that was prohibitive. Congress showed it couldn't be trusted with the welfare of the student pages and now, the Budget.

    August 8, 2011 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  15. FedUp

    Good. No child should be left alone in DC! It definitely is not a place I would have sent any of my children or grandchildren. They don't need to learn to lie, cheat and steal from the best in the business.

    August 8, 2011 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  16. jean2009

    John Bonehead can take the full blame for ending a 191 year old program, he is speaker of the house.
    And for @Not Much Longer Now....I would suggest reading Article 31 of the Iraqi Constitution....George W. Bush's administration wrote the Iraqi Constitution and that provide universal health care for each Iraqi and the American taxpayer funded it with $950 million of our tax dollars.

    August 8, 2011 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  17. SSmithh

    Those are Senate Pages...

    August 8, 2011 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  18. What the Funk & Wagnall????

    Five million a year??? That does not include the cost of housing. That does not include the cost of schooling. Divide that $5M by 70 pages and it averages $71,428 per page. Let's suppose they earn $21,428 in salary (not to shabby for a high-school junior!). That leaves $50k per page (=$3.5 million). That $3.5M is more than some school districts operate with.

    If it is not going toward housing and schooling, where the HE!L does that $50K per page go? Stamps? Bicycle tires? 'Mentoring'? Hmm? (I live on less than $50K a year [before taxes], as do most individuals.) Add in housing and education and what are we really paying? $10M? $15M?

    Just more proof of how good the government is at squandering OUR money. Good grief!

    I'm all for getting kids involved and I'm sorry this program has to end, thus taking away what is probably a great experience and learning opportunity. Too bad our government sets such a poor example.

    August 8, 2011 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  19. g.c.kells

    Mary, do you honestly believe it was primarily Republicans that were accused of misconduct with pages? Neither party has a monopoly on sex scandals, and nobody thinks your derisive nicknames are clever. Any comment that includes Libtard, Rethug, Teabagger, Dumocrat or any variation is immediately disregarded by anyone with a shred of intelligence.

    August 8, 2011 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  20. fdrnow

    I guess they have to cut costs somewhere. I am sure many of these young Americans would do this job for free. The expense seem extraordinary for this program. Let's see, take the low end for all students...$70K x's 70, $4,900,000 per year for this program AT THE LOW END. Something sounds rather fishy about the cost of this "program." What is really going on here?

    August 8, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  21. KB

    This is super said. Rumor always said House Pages were not on top of their game like the Senate Pages. Their were fewer of us and the rules were enforced. Thank you Senate Page staff for being hard on us even when we didn't like it. Being a Page is an experience of a life time. Many of the opportunities I have had since have involved recruiters asking me about my experience. Being a Page teaches a million life lessons that could not be taught in any other circumstance. I am leaps and bounds above my peers because of those five stressful months I spent in DC away from family and friends. The other pages became my family and contintue to be to this day. No amount of money could replace the lessons I learned.

    August 8, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  22. Alex in Wisconsin

    It's sad that on a bipartisan story, the right wing bloggers still can't help but attack the president, even though he wasn't mentioned in the article once. It's also a shame that right wrongers can't understand the concept of a balanced approach to debt reduction. They compare it to to homes turning off the cable and reducing spending when in reality, most homes cut their spending and increase revenue by getting a second job. One sided solutions to complex and multisided problems is childish. Our country has a spending problem. Our country also has a revenue problem. Want to know why you feel like you are taxed too much? Get you head out of the dirty and look at the top 1%. They pay 38% of the taxes but make 90% of the wealth. That means a population that pays the other 62% of taxes only makes 10 percent of the wealth. This divide has been growing for years as wages amount middle and low class families stagnate while CEO pay skyrockets. And as CEO pay skyrockets, the cost of living goes up too. If you know this and are ok with it, Tell the country you don't care about the "lazy" 90% of the nation Let that be the new Tea Party Mantra in 2012. But if you kniw this and it bothers you, tell the world that the american dream isn't dead yet. And if you don't believe me, do the research, not from News Organizations. Look at the wlraw data, draw your own conclusion. Just please, Don't stay ignorant or what's happening around you.

    August 8, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  23. Tyson V.

    As a former page, I am deeply saddened by this news. For all the faults associated with individuals participating in or with the program, the program itself was an amazing and honorable relic from the early Congress. It is unfortunate that future generations of young Americans will be unable to witness the legislative process from the inside and contribute to our great Republic's history.

    August 8, 2011 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  24. Middle America

    This is a good, bipartisan decision, plain and simple. There is no need to politicize it.

    August 8, 2011 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  25. Ken in NC

    Nancy Pelosi's name is associated with this because it was the work of both Speakers of the House. The review was started under Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Boehner back in 2008.

    August 8, 2011 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
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