House delegate to introduce bill creating new page program

A congressional delegate has announced plans to introduce a bill to create a volunteer summer-internship initiative replacing the recently terminated House page program.

According to a Wednesday news release, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) will introduce the bill when Congress reconvenes. It proposes the creation of a program similar to the page program, which was eliminated by House leaders in August due to budget cuts.

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“Based on the old page program, Norton’s bill requires summer interns in the program to have much of the same duties and responsibilities as House pages,” according to the release. “Unlike the House page program, however, Norton’s proposed internship program requires applicants to be in college or college-bound, and to provide for their own housing during the internship, as well as being unpaid.”

Norton’s plan comes one week after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced plans to create a Democratic Cloakroom intern initiative for college-aged students.

When announcing the termination of the page program last month, Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) cited the “prohibitive cost of the program and advances in technology.”

The leaders also 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 who participated.

Reaction to the page program cancellation was swift on Capitol Hill, with several members calling for its reinstatement.

“The need for pages has become apparent to House members in the short time since the House page program ended,” Norton wrote in the release. “Although funding for the program has come to an end, the need for pages has not.

“The page program provided a uniquely valuable learning experience to students and performed important tasks for Members and their offices. My bill removes the traditional impediments that brought down the page program — the costs associated with providing education and housing to the pages, and caring for minors.”

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