The House Page Program, a beloved Washington institution and the beginning of many a congressional career, has become the latest — and, to many on Capitol Hill, thus far the most shocking — casualty of the country’s fiscal woes.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Monday in a joint statement that they had directed House officials to “take the steps necessary to conclude” the nearly two-century-old program after independent consultants concluded that it was not cost-effective.
Pages are students in their junior year of high school who are hired as temporary support staff for House members. In addition to running errands, delivering correspondence for lawmakers and answering phones in the cloakrooms off the House floor, pages also take classes at the House Page School and live together in a residence hall on Capitol Hill. They receive a monthly salary of $1,804.83, from which a 35 percent room-and-board fee is deducted, according to the House Page Program.
The per capita cost of operating the program runs between $69,000 and $80,000 a year, at a total annual cost of more than $5 million, according to the joint statement from the House leaders.
A 2006 Roll Call story profiled 11 lawmakers who had gotten their start in Washington as pages, including Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.).