House creates intern program after ending page program

The House has created a Democratic Cloakroom intern initiative for college-aged students, a month after announcing the elimination of Congress’s high school page program.

In a letter Tuesday to members of the House Democratic Caucus, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote that the new initiatives “will provide current Congressional college-level interns the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the Democratic Cloakroom.”

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“A limited number of students will be selected to work with our professional cloakroom staff,” she added. “Only interns already chosen to serve in members’ offices will be considered.”

The Democratic leader will ask members to recommend interns for the program, which will last up to six weeks as part of the student’s existing Washington internship placement.

“This initiative affords college-level interns with the opportunity to work in the Cloakroom and on the floor without the cost and complex responsibilities of the page program,” Pelosi said.

Cost was the overriding reason given for eliminating Congress’s page program, which was nearly as old as Congress, on Aug. 31.

Pelosi and House Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerIt's time for McConnell to fight with Trump instead of against him How Republicans can bring order out of the GOP's chaos Republican donor sues GOP for fraud over ObamaCare repeal failure MORE (R-Ohio), in a joint statement, claimed the decision was necessary due to the “prohibitive cost of the program and advances in technology.”

The leaders noted the pages, who delivered documents around the Capitol complex, were rarely used anymore because most documents are transmitted electronically. They also noted the cost to operate the program exceeded $5 million annually for the nearly 70 high school students.

Reaction to the page program cancellation was swift on Capitol Hill. Members called for its reinstatement, with Democratic Reps. Dan Boren (Okla.), John Dingell (Mich.) and Henry Cuellar (Texas) introducing legislation last week to that end.

“When the House page program was discontinued earlier this year, I noted the interest of House Democrats in finding new ways to involve young people in the operations of the House,” Pelosi wrote of the new intern initiative.

“I know these placements will offer a valuable learning experience for the interns while providing valuable assistance to our Members consistent with the needs of the Cloakroom’s staff,” she added.