WASHINGTON -- Goodbye, pages! At the end of August, the House of Representatives will terminate its page program, which staffed teens to work in the chamber, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Monday.
Clad in grey slacks or skirts and navy blue blazers, the House pages performed a variety of tasks for the House, many of which have been phased out by technology over recent years. When the House reviewed the program in 2008 and again last summer, it found that the page program is simply no longer cost-effective.
"Despite ... improvements, many of the serious concerns originally raised about the need for, and cost of, the Page Program remain," Boehner and Pelosi wrote in a letter to House members. "After careful consideration, we have determined that the Page Program should be terminated at the conclusion of the current summer term."
The program cost more than $5 million to run, according to a study in 2008, not including the costs of running the Page dormitory and school. Pages serve terms lasting four months and earn a gross monthly salary of $1,804.83. Per page, that program cost equated to between $69,000 and $80,000 per year.
Meanwhile, studies found the page tasks of delivering documents, packages and phone messages were rendered largely obsolete by technology, which made it easier for lawmakers to shoot an email from their BlackBerry than to ask a page to carry a letter to a colleague.
The page program suffered a setback in September 2006, when then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) was found to have sent explicit emails and messages to a 16-year-old male page from Louisiana.
Still, the announcement marks the end of a program that has existed in some form since 1774, and more formally since 1827.
The House page website, which still lists the application criteria, writes that pages were required to be at least 16 or 17 years old when they started their term, and maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in high school. Teenagers could apply by asking either their representative or one in the same state to sponsor their application.