House leaders end page program

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced they were ending the House page program.

As of Aug. 31, the program — which employs nearly 70 high school students to serve as messengers and couriers on the House floor and around the Capitol complex — will be no more, according to a joint statement issued late Monday afternoon.

The program has been in existence for nearly 200 years. It gives students the opportunity to work and attend high school in Congress for a semester during their junior year, or for several weeks during the summer.

Citing the “prohibitive cost of the program and advances in technology,” Boehner and Pelosi wrote that “this decision was not easy, but it is necessary.”

According to a House leadership aide, the decision to eliminate the program has been a year in the making.

While the page program as it previously existed will end, Boehner and Pelosi wrote that they “will work with Members of the House to carry on the tradition of engaging young people in the work of the Congress.”

The program came under national scrunity in the fall of 2006, when it was revealed that then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) sent sexually explicit messages to at least one former page. Foley resigned a few weeks later as the scandal shook Capitol Hill.

In their statement, the leaders noted the pages, who used to deliver documents around the Capitol complex, are rarely used anymore because most documents are transmitted electronicallly. They also noted the cost to operate the program exceeds $5 million and the “per Page” cost per school year is between $69,000 and $80,000, “more than the most expensive boarding schools, as well as most colleges and universities.”

The Senate is not currently reviewing its page program for possible elimination, according to the office of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Erik Wasson contributed to this story.

— This story was updated at 4:03 p.m.

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