After serving as assistants to members of the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly 200 years, the page program is ending due cost-cutting measures and the rise of electronic messaging.
Run by the Clerk of the House, the program gives high school juniors a job as non-partisan federal employees for House members, providing a messaging service in and around The Capitol. But in today’s world of e-mail, text messages and social networking the role has been deemed obsolete.
From the AP:
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday that the $5 million annual expense can no longer be justified when messages and other materials are delivered electronically. The blue-jacketed pages, who have been a common sight in the House since the 1820s, now have little to do, according to the two leaders.
Before the Internet and personal electronic devices, pages “crisscrossed the congressional complex each day delivering countless messages and documents to members, committees and leadership offices,” the two leaders said in a letter to House members – delivered via email.
Two studies begun in 2008 found that while the young aides were once “stretched to the limit delivering large numbers of urgently needed documents and other packages,” they now are “rarely called upon for such deliveries, as most documents are now transmitted electronically.”