Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced the closing of an iconic Capitol Hill institution Monday. The House Page Program, the leaders said, is coming to a close.
Boehner and Pelosi cited technological advances and the high costs of the program in a press release, saying they have “directed the Clerk of the House and other House officials to take the steps necessary to conclude the House Page Program.”
“We have great appreciation for the unique role that Pages have played in the history and traditions of the House of Representatives,” Boehner and Pelosi said in a joint statement. “The decision was not easy, but 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.”
The decision was partly based on an independent review by Strategic Assets Consulting and Fieldstone Consulting, Inc.
The review found that today, pages are rarely called upon to perform traditional duties like couriering documents and packages between offices, and delivering phone messages to members on the floor. Moreover, the program costs upwards of $5 million to operate, even without factoring in the Page school and dormitory.
According to the study, each page costs between $69,000 and $80,000 per school year.
To be eligible for the program, applicants had to have a 3.0 minimum GPA, be a high school junior, a U.S. citizen, and 16 at least years old, though not older than 17 at the start of the program.
According to the official Page Program History, the use of messengers can be traced back to the First Continental Congress in 1774. It wasn’t until 1982, however, that a Page program was formally organized complete with a Page Board, new residences, and academic classes.