United States House of Representatives Page

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United States House of Representatives Page Program was a program run by the United States House of Representatives, under the office of the Clerk of the House, in which appointed high school juniors acted as non-partisan federal employees in the House of Representatives, providing supplemental administrative support to House operations in a variety of capacities in Washington, D.C. at the United States Capitol.1 Pages reported to "Chief Pages", commonly referred to as work bosses (or "House Page Work Supervisors") on the Democratic and Republican sides of the House of Representatives Floor. As was the practice in Middle Ages, pages were used as a messaging service for the four main House Office Buildings (Rayburn, Longworth, Cannon, and Ford) as well as inside the Capitol. Other Page responsibilities included: taking statements from members of congress after speeches (for the Congressional Record), printing and delivering vote reports to various offices, tending members' personal needs while on the floor of the House, managing phones in the cloakrooms, and ringing the bells for votes. Pages were nominated by representatives based upon a highly competitive application process. Congressional Pages had served within the U.S. House of Representatives for almost 180 years.

On August 8, 2011, Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced that the House Page program would end due to costs and the technological advancements that have rendered the program no longer essential.2 The Senate Page program will continue.

Selection

Pages serve in one of four terms: a five-month fall semester (September–January), a four and a half-month spring semester (February–June), or one of two three-to-four week summer sessions. Those selected to serve during the summer period may serve either the summer directly before or directly after their junior year of high school. After completing one session, Pages may be eligible for the subsequent session, based upon merit and space. Prospective House Pages are nominated by a representative or congressional delegate (Pages have come from all 50 U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa). Pages for the majority party tend to spend the entire academic year involved in the program; others from the minority party may apply and continue throughout the school year as well.

A Page may be nominated by any representative, regardless of party affiliation or district, and there are minimum GPA requirements for appointment (3.0 GPA +). Candidates must be at least 16 years of age at the time of service, and must serve during either their junior year or during the summer immediately before or after the junior year. Candidates are required to submit high school transcripts as well as information about extracurricular activities and other criteria, as well as an essay and three letters of recommendation. (Individual representatives may require a candidate to provide more information or to do an interview by phone or in person). All final selections for the majority Pages are made by the Speaker of the House, and for minority Pages the decision is made by the minority leader.

It is a general rule that only one nominee is permitted per representative, except for party leadership (although during the 104th Congress, Duke Cunningham successfully lobbied for the joint appointment of twin sisters from Encinitas, California and Gene Taylor successfully lobbied for the appointment of three Pages from the Gulf Coast during the 109th Congress after Hurricane Katrina). During the 110th Congress, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D) was allowed to appoint a set of twins as Democratic Pages during the second summer session. Also during the 110th Congress, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) was allowed to appoint two Pages due to his seniority in Congress and during the 109th Congress, Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) also appointed twin sisters from Atlanta, GA.

Usually, each group of Pages, typically referred to as a "class", consists of between 45 and 75 students. Fall and spring classes tend to have between 60 and 72 Pages, while summer session classes are larger, being between 70 and 75 Pages. Thus, not every representative can nominate a Page. During the fall term of the 110th Congress, only 52 Pages were appointed by representatives, making it the smallest Page class in many years.

Distribution of Pages slots are 2:1 in the favor of the majority party in the House. However, each party rarely fills all their slots for the school year terms, leaving the minority Page service more shorthanded. During the school year, in most cases, the parties have allowed "cross-aisle" assignments, whereby a small number of majority appointees are allowed to drift across to the minority side for several week stints to better balance the distribution of Pages. Majority Pages will often seek to help out their friends on the other side of the aisle with large work-loads.

Schooling

Top level, Thomas Jefferson Building

House Pages serving during the school year attend the House Page School, located on the attic floor of the Jefferson, or main building of the Library of Congress. Pages are given Library of Congress badges that allow them to access the restricted floor. The school is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The length of class varies depending on the time in which the House begins its session. Every weekday, except public holidays, Pages begin school at 6:45am. The only exception is for Pages that worked past 10 p.m. the evening prior. Class length varies from 12 to 50 minutes, depending on the daily schedule of the House of Representatives. Pages are usually dismissed from school an hour prior to the convening of the House. If the House does not convene, or does not do so before noon, school ends at 11:30. Pages attend all classes for 50 minutes with five minutes' passing time and a 15 minute break. If the House convenes at 10:00 am, Pages are dismissed at 9:00 from school. They still attend all five classes, but for only 25 minutes with no passing time. If the House convenes at 9:00 am, Pages are dismissed from school at 8:00. Such a school day is generally spent on a school-wide activity, though all five classes may be attended for roughly 12 minutes with no passing time. Common school days end at 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 11:00 am, and 11:30 am.

Pages are also required to participate in Washington Seminars. This program, run by the House Page School, is usually every other Saturday and the Pages visit sites in or around Washington. Trips are followed by an activity or reflective journal entry. Journals are graded by the school's counselor and grades count towards the Page's "Washington Seminar" class, as shown on his or her transcript.

Clubs and groups may be formed if a Page has the desire to found one. Examples of previous clubs have included the Pennsylvania Club founded by all of the Pages hailing from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the 2003-2004 school year Page Class, and the Literary-Magazine club which is occasionally formed during some school years to produce a magazine of the class's literary works. Pages are discouraged from participating in clubs or activities that would take time away from studying and/or work.

Pages traditionally form a Model Congress program in the Fall, and a Model United Nations in the Spring. For example, the House Model Congress program met weekly in the Agriculture Committee within the Longworth House Office Building. This began in 1997 and lasted, with only one missing year, through 2005. The Model Congress typically is a format for the Pages to voice their opinions on the matters before the House at the time and for Pages to practice parliamentary skills, including public speaking. Prior to this, Pages frequently did this on the floor of the House, after the closing gavel.

Page Graduation is an elaborate ceremony which typically takes place in the Cannon House Office Building. Pages vote and request a graduation speaker. Graduation speakers have included Jim Traficant (5 times), Tip O'Neill (4 times), Newt Gingrich (4 times), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (twice), Gene Taylor (twice), Jim Kolbe (once) and John Boehner (once). The first Departure Ceremony of the 110th Congress, in June 2007, was keynoted by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and also featured Chairman of the House Page Board Rep. Dale Kildee, Rep. John Conyers, Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and Del. Madeleine Bordallo.

During the 110th Congress, in the Fall, Pages were given the chance to obtain Library of Congress Reader Cards for the first time in the Page Program's history, giving them access to the large reading rooms available in the Library of Congress. Pages sometimes use their reader cards to gain access to rooms in the library for studying purposes.

Environment

Clothing

House Page Jacob Kosoff in uniform

House Pages wear uniforms during school and while at work in the Capitol. Appointees are required to purchase their own uniform, which consists of navy blazers, white dress shirts, gray slacks for males and gray skirts or slacks for females and black shoes. The Office of the Clerk provides a tie for both males and females. The Office of the Clerk also provides Pages with lapel pins and name-tags, which Pages must wear at all times. Lost ties, pins, or name-tags cost $10 to replace. Such services used to be provided by the Doorkeeper of House.

Until the early 1960s, Pages (then all-male) were required to wear suits with knickers as pants, long after the style had become obsolete for other boys.

Housing

House Pages formerly resided at the Page Residence Hall (PRH) at 501 First Street, SE, Washington, D.C., 20002. This hall was completed in 2001. Prior to residence in the PRH, the Pages resided in a former dormitory for Catholic nuns working at nearby Providence Hospital, before that at the now-demolished O'Neill House Office Building at 301 C Street SE, Washington, D.C. 20003 (also known as House Annex One) and, before that, at various locations around the District of Columbia. The residence hall resembles a university dormitory, with shared sleeping accommodations (separate floors for males and females) and common areas for social activities. Most rooms house three Pages, but some rooms accommodate as little as two or as many as four. Boys and girls are split into a Long Wing and a Short Wing. Boys are downstairs and girls are upstairs.

There are four proctors and an assistant director and a director. A part-time tutor is made available to assist Pages with their studies in the evening. Study hall is open Monday through Friday, typically from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Grades for each subject are reassessed weekly and if a Page is below an 80 percent in a course, he is required to attend study hall for one hour Monday through Thursday. If a Page is deficient in two courses, he must stay two hours. Pages can attend for as long as 3 hours, but no more than 2 hours is required.

When not at school or at work, Pages are given great liberty with their free time. Pages are subject to a curfew (10:00 pm in-room curfew with 11:00 pm lights-out), a later curfew on weekends, must travel with at least one fellow Page, and are expected to maintain high moral bearings. Regarding transit, while Pages are not permitted to bring personal vehicles with them to the District of Columbia, Pages have access to the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority's modes of public transportation, including the Washington Metro system. However, Pages are not permitted to hire taxicabs or use the bus system for transportation.

Extra activities

Almost every other Saturday and all Sundays, Pages are free from school or work obligations, unless emergency situations arise. Most spend their time working on school assignments, touring the many attractions in the DC area or simply relaxing from a long week's work. For holidays, Pages return home for Thanksgiving, Christmas/New Year and spring breaks; the dormitory is closed during these periods.

A student representative body takes form in the Page Activity Committee (PAC). PAC is responsible for organizing various social functions and fundraising events. However, the Committee has no governing authority (in terms of regulatory or disciplinary matters), and despite attempts from numerous Page classes to quasi-unionize, it does not serve as a petitioning body for the Page group to redress grievances with the Office of the Clerk or its subordinate groups.

Work

The Page's work life revolves around the US Capitol in Washington, D.C.. Officially a division of the Office of the Clerk, the US House Page Program exists primarily to provide supplement support to various House offices. Two full-time, adult employees of the Office of the Clerk serve as "Chief Pages;" although some holders of this position self-titled themselves as "Page Supervisors" to avoid misidentification. These employees are not partisan, although there is one Republican Supervisor, and one Democratic Supervisor, to direct the day-to-day operations of the Page groups and provide front-line adult supervision. Additionally, the Office of the Clerk employs a Page Coordinator to coordinate all aspects of Page life, school, work, and dormitory and handle administrative responsibilities.

For work purposes, Pages are divided into two groups, Republican and Democratic, based upon the party affiliation of their sponsoring Member. On both sides of the aisle, the vast majority of Pages are based on the Floor of the House and serve as Runners. These runners are dispatched to various House offices, typically taking advantage of the United States Capitol subway system to transport various documents by Overseer or Desk Pages. The Overseer Pages are responsible for ensuring that all inbound call requests are met as quickly as possible and that the workload is distributed as even as possible among the runners. A fair number of dispatches involve the runners going to Congressional offices to bring proposed legislation to the cloakrooms. At the cloakrooms, a Cloakroom Page, or a Cloakroom Manager will sign that he has received the legislation. It is then brought to the Bill Hopper, or simply, the hopper (a repository box on the rostrum on the Floor) for official submission to the Clerk of the House. Often, much to the humor of the ofttimes more knowledgeable Pages, college-educated, yet naive Congressional aides will address the envelope containing the bill to Mr. William Hopper. Cloakroom Pages and Members of Congress are the sole people allowed to put anything into the Hopper, which is simply a small wooden box.

Other correspondence from offices may go to the respective Cloakrooms or other offices in the Capitol Complex. In addition, United States of America flags that are to be flown over the Capitol are often delivered by Pages to the Architect of the Capitol's Flag Office.

In the 110th Congress, Republican Overseers are assigned for the semester, while Democratic Pages rotate each day as Overseer or Desk. This is up to the personal preference of the Page Supervisor.

Flags of the United States of America that have been flown over the Capitol are sorted by party and House Office Building and put in closets by employees of the Architect of the Capitol. Each day two or three Pages sort their party's flags from building into sequential order by room and floor. After all the flags have been returned to the member's office from whence it came, Pages may leave work. Currently, Democratic Pages may leave after all of the "flag pages" are done with their deliveries. Republicans may leave only after 1:00 p.m. Popularly known as flag days, each runner is rotated to this duty regularly. These half days allow runners to go back to the PRH and sleep, do their laundry, do homework, socialise, and leave the dormitory unaccompanied—provided that they stay within about a mile radius and return by 4:30 p.m. Currently, Democratic Pages work as flag Pages once every two weeks, and Republican Pages once a week.

The runners also rotate as Floor Pages. Floor Pages deliver correspondence from the Clerk's Office staff seated at the Rostrum to their counterparts in the basement Office of Legislative Operations, to the Enrolling Clerks. They also respond to Page requests by members on the Floor who use the Page Call buttons that every two chairs share.

On a rotating basis, Majority Page runners serve as Voting Pages for a day. They go down to the Tally Clerk's section of the Office of the Legislative Operations in the basement. They print the final results of any vote or quorum call that uses the electronic recording devices and delivers copies of the results to several offices in the Capitol. There are two voting Pages to allow for one to make copies while the other prints the results for the next vote.

On a rotating basis, Majority Page runners serve as Statement Pages for a day. Two Pages do the job: one serves as Majority Statement Page, one serves as Minority Statement Page. Each Page sits on their respective side of the Floor about six rows back from the well. After a member speaks from the Leadership Tables or the Well on his/her side of the Chamber, a statement Page will pursue the member and recover any prepared remarks the member had written before he spoke. The Page then delivers it to the Congressional Record Clerks. While Congressional Record stenographers take down all proceedings, copies of prepared remarks aid the Congressional Record staff in increasing their accuracy.

On a rotating basis, Majority Page runners rotate as an Annex runner Page. Annex runners make deliveries to the Ford House Office Building (House Annex II), the Page School, the Page Residence Hall, and occasionally the Library of Congress buildings.

Typically, runner Pages are released from duty at 4:30 p.m. each week day that the House is not in session. However, should the House remain in session into the night for continued debate and/or votes, each Page Service typically retains three to four runner Pages until the House finishes legislative business. Statement Pages stay as long as deliberations continue and voting Pages serve until legislative business has concluded. Cloakroom Pages stay as long as Congress is in session, or until special orders begin. Runners that will not be working late are dismissed at 5:30 p.m. on late nights if they are Republican; Democrats are released at 5:15.

Long-term Page jobs

Additionally, there exist several long-term posts to which certain Pages may be assigned.

Speaker's Pages

Speaker's Pages are two pages which serve solely the Office of the Speaker. Based at the Speaker's Office on the second floor of the Capitol, Speaker's Pages act to supplement the Speaker's staff. From fetching beverages and snacks for the Speaker and his official guests to helping to compose internal memoranda, Speaker's Pages have direct access to the highest echelons of the House leadership and have the most dynamic duties of the Page group. These Pages fall under the de facto supervision of the Office Manager of the Office of the Speaker.

The assignment of Speaker's Pages was suspended in September 2007.

Documentarian Pages

Documentarians, who are only selected from the group of Pages in the majority party, (or Documentarian Pages, "Docs") are perhaps the two most visible Pages. Seated to the stage-left of the rostrum, these Pages have several important responsibilities. When the House gavels into session, the Documentarians are responsible for raising the US flag on the roof of the south wing of the Capitol, officially notifying the public that the House is in session. At the close of the day, when the House adjourns, they return to the roof and lower the flag. Additionally, they are responsible for activating the bell system which rings throughout the House-side of the Capitol complex, notifying Representatives that the House is in session or that there is a vote. Also, they provide assistance to the various clerks and congressional parliamentarians seated at the rostrum, as well as the Speaker Pro Tempore. Although highly independent, these Pages fall under the de facto supervision of the Timekeeper (Clerk to the Parliamentarian). There are typically six "Docs" that work in pairs. Docs work the longest hours of any Pages. They work until the House adjourns, which may be as late as midnight. They must be present during Special Orders, a time when a member may speak for one hour on any subject. Special Orders are conducted after the day's legislative business has ended and typically last until midnight. During Special Orders, provide water to the rostrum and help set up posters for members giving Special Orders.

Cloakroom Pages

Each Party Cloakroom has Cloakroom Pages (or "cloakies") who provide direct assistance to Members of Congress when on the floor and assist the cloakroom staff. Cloakroom Pages answer the cloakrooms phones, and transfer the calls to the booths in the cloakroom. When a congressional staffer wants to talk with a Member, Cloakroom Pages must go on the Floor and notify that member. These Pages also have to convey messages between Congressmen. For this reason, Cloakroom Pages must memorize all of the Representatives of that political party, by name, face, and state. Additionally, Cloakroom Pages help maintain official cloakroom records of daily proceedings, including bills before the House for debate and votes. Miscellaneous tasks include cleaning the phone booths provided in the cloakroom for congressmen; assisting the cloakroom managers in answering phone calls; and during votes, waking up congressmen (who may be sleeping on couches during long or late votes) several minutes before the vote closes; and to make sure that every member present remembers to vote. These Pages fall under the de facto supervision of the managers of the respective cloakrooms. The Republican Cloakies generally serve for an entire semester, though it has been known to switch out half its complement about halfway through the semester. The Democratic Cloakies generally serve shorter stints in the cloakroom: usually two or three serve as the long-term backbone and the others serve shorter terms. Cloakroom Pages are dismissed when legislative business concludes, although two minority Cloakies typically stay to man the phones for the first hour or so of Special Orders.

Compensation and fees

For their average of 40 hours of work per week, Pages earn $21,134.00 annually, with a monthly gross salary of $1,761.913 ($11.01 hourly).

Automatic deductions are made for federal and local taxes (based upon the individual Page's permanent residence), social security, and the Residence Hall fee. The Residence Hall fee is $400/month in room and board fees. Pages are given an allowance of $20 Monday through Thursday, and $10 on Friday for food in the House side of the Capitol. In addition, the Residence Hall provides food for the Pages on Sundays for dinner, and breakfast is provided for them in the dormitory every weekday morning.

Pages are paid on the last working day of the month.

Notable Pages

Program history

As early as 1827, males were hired to serve as messengers in Congress. In the Congressional Record (formerly known as the Congressional Globe), the term Page was first used in 1839 and referred to as a youth employed as a personal attendant to a person of high rank.

However, some sources claim that Pages have served as messengers since the very first Congress 1789.

Over the years, the Page Program has seen many changes. In 1965, the late Senator Jacob K. Javits (R-NY) appointed the first black male Page to actually serve and in the summer of 1973, the first female Pages were appointed.

The House of Representatives Page Board was established in 1982 and the first Members of the House Page Board were appointed in November of the same year the Page Board was established. The Board consists of two Members from the majority party selected by the Speaker, one Member from the minority party selected by the Minority Leader, the Clerk of the House and the Sergeant-at-Arms of the House.

1983 was a year of change and after much scandal, the Page Residence Hall was established and Congress required that all Pages be at least sixteen years old and juniors in high school. Previous to that, the age range of Pages was 14 to 18 and no type of housing was provided.

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Pages involved in rescue

On March 1, 1954, members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party opened gunfire on the House Chamber during debate from the viewing gallery and injured five members of Congress. In this U.S. Capitol shooting incident (1954) Congressman Alvin Bentley was seriously wounded by a bullet fired by Lolita Lebrón. Six Pages carried Congressman Bentley (R-Michigan) off the house floor. The famous photograph of Pages carrying Congressman Bentley can be found in the Page Residence Hall as well as the Republican Cloakroom and Page school; two of the Pages in the picture later became members of Congress: Paul Kanjorski (D-PA) and Bill Emerson (R-MO), for whom the main assembly hall in the Page School is named. A bullet hole from the attack can still be found directly above the Democratic Page desk.

Scandals

1983 sex and drug scandal

In 1983, it came to light that Representatives Dan Crane (R-Ill.) and Gerry Studds (D-Mass) had engaged in sexual relationships with 17-year-old congressional Pages. In Crane's case, it was a 1980 relationship with a female Page and in Studds's case, it was a 1973 relationship with a male Page. Because Washington, D.C.'s age of consent is 16, no crimes were committed. The House Ethics Committee reprimanded both on July 14, 1983. However, Representative Newt Gingrich demanded the expulsion of both Congressmen. On July 20, the House voted for censure, the first time that censure had been imposed for sexual misconduct. Crane, who tearfully apologized for his transgression, lost his bid for reelection in 1984. Studds, however, refused to apologize, and he continued to be reelected until his retirement in 1997.

The House Ethics Committee probe found that James Howarth, who had supervised the House Pages until December 1982, when he was given other duties, had had sex in 1980 with one of his 17-year-old female wards. The report also accused Howarth of buying cocaine in the House's Democratic cloakroom, possibly from another House staffer.13 He resigned prior to formal House action (Nov. 15, 1983). Also implicated were Majority Assistant Cloakroom Manager Robert Yesh, who was accused of selling and using cocaine; using marijuana and cocaine with House Pages; resigned (April 15, 1983); and pleaded guilty to two federal misdemeanors (March 9, 1983) and James Beattie (Doorkeeper's Office), who was accused of selling and using cocaine; resigned (May 16, 1983); and pleaded guilty to two federal misdemeanors (July 28, 1983).14

1996 alcohol scandal

In 1996, five Pages were dismissed for alcohol use.15

2002 marijuana scandal

In 2002, eleven Pages were dismissed for using marijuana. The incident occurred after a female Page who had family in the Washington, D.C., invited fellow Pages to her home, where marijuana was used while the teenagers were unsupervised. That Page later brought drugs to the dormitory and this was reported to authorities.15

2006 email and internet message scandal

The Mark Foley scandal involved the now former Republican congressman Mark Foley, who sent emails and instant messages of a sexual nature to several former congressional Pages. Page Board Chairman John Shimkus said "that in late 2005 he learned — through information passed along by Rodney Alexander's office — about an e-mail exchange in which Foley asked about the youngster's well-being after Hurricane Katrina, and requested a photograph."16

After this revelation, other Congressional Pages came forward with similar stories about Congressman Foley. Graphic conversations between Foley and several Pages using AOL Instant Messenger were released by ABC News on September 29, 2006; Foley resigned the same day. United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood (R-IL) has since suggested suspending the program.

Rep. Sue Kelly, who was Chairwoman of the Page Board from 1998 to 2001,17 was caught up in the scandal when three Pages said they were aware of Foley's inappropriate attention toward Pages during her tenure.18

End of the program

On August 8, 2011, Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced in a joint statement that the House would end the Page program, saying technological advancements made Page services unnecessary in light of the cost of the program, which is more than $5 million ($69,000-$80,000 per Page).2 "Pages, once stretched to the limit delivering large numbers of documents and other packages between the U.S. Capitol and House office buildings, are today rarely called upon for such services, since most documents are now transmitted electronically." they said.2 "We have great appreciation for the unique role that Pages have played in the history and traditions of the House of Representatives. This decision was not easy, but it is necessary due to the prohibitive cost of the program and advances in technology that have rendered most Page-provided services no longer essential to the smooth functioning of the House."2 The Senate Page program will continue.2

See also

References

External links








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