Page of the United States House of Representatives

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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 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[edit]

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 were 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 were 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 were 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 were made by the Speaker of the House, and for minority Pages the decision was made by the minority leader.

It was a general rule that only one nominee was permitted per representative, except for party leadership.

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 were 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 were 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 were 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[edit]

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 were given Library of Congress badges that allow them to access the restricted floor. The school was 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 began school at 6:45am. The only exception was for Pages who 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 were 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 were dismissed at 9:00 a.m. from school.

Pages were also required to participate in Washington Seminars. This program, run by the House Page School, was usually every other Saturday and the Pages visited sites in or around Washington.

Clothing[edit]

House Page in uniform

House Pages wore uniforms during school and while at work in the Capitol. Appointees were 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[edit]

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 were split into a Long Wing and a Short Wing. Boys were downstairs and girls were upstairs.

Work[edit]

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 were not partisan, although there was 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 were 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 were based on the Floor of the House and serve as runners. These runners were 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 were responsible for ensuring that all inbound call requests were met as quickly as possible and that the workload was 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 was 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 were the sole people allowed to put anything into the Hopper, which was 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 were to be flown over the Capitol were often delivered by Pages to the Architect of the Capitol's Flag Office.

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

Speaker's Pages[edit]

Speaker's Pages were pages who served 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[edit]

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 was 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 was in session or that there was 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[edit]

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.

Notable Pages[edit]

Program history[edit]

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.[11]

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 consisted 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.

[2]

Pages involved in rescue[edit]

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[edit]

1983 sex and drug scandal[edit]

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.[12] 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).[13]

1996 alcohol scandal[edit]

In 1996, five Pages were dismissed for alcohol use.[14]

2002 marijuana dismissals[edit]

In 2002, eleven Pages were dismissed for using marijuana. The incident occurred after a female Page who had family in the Washington, D.C., area 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.[14]

2006 email and internet message scandal[edit]

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."[15]

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) later suggested suspending the program.

Rep. Sue Kelly, who was Chairwoman of the Page Board from 1998 to 2001,[16] was caught up in the scandal when three Pages said she was aware of Foley's inappropriate attention toward Pages during her tenure.[17]

End of the program[edit]

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 was 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 was 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[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Local Student, Gabby Harlow, Completes House Page Program in Washington, D.C." Retrieved 2007-11-02.
  2. ^ a b c d e Newhauser, Daniel; Newhauser, Daniel (8 August 2011). "House Ends Page Program". Retrieved 2 April 2018 – via www.rollcall.com.
  3. ^ Dingell, John Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  4. ^ "Biographical Directory of the United States Congress". Retrieved 2009-10-10.
  5. ^ 2007 Congressional Record, Vol. 153, Page H768
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "United States House Page Association of America". Archived from the original on 2015-05-01. Retrieved 2010-02-22.
  8. ^ http://www.starbacks.ca/~rewoodham/beasgovr.html
  9. ^ "Boren statement on Mark Foley investigation". Retrieved 2006-11-03.
  10. ^ "Jonathan Turley Bio". Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  11. ^ US House of Representatives. "Page Origins".
  12. ^ "Housecleaning". Time. July 25, 1983. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  13. ^ Committee on Standards of Official Conduct Archived 2006-12-05 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ a b "Caught With Pot: House Pages Ousted". CBS News. May 2, 2002.
  15. ^ "Sixteen-Year-Old Who Worked as Capitol Hill Page Concerned About E-mail Exchange with Congressman". Associated Press. September 29, 2006. Archived from the original on October 21, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-28.
  16. ^ "lohud.com". lohud.com. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-10-11. Retrieved 2006-10-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]