Cutting page program a mistake
For days now I have been in disbelief over the House of Representatives’ decision to cut the House Page Program, of which I was a member this summer. Citing the $5 million year budget, the Speaker and the Minority Leader decided to cut the program without informing anyone on Capitol Hill, not even the members of the House Page Board. The decision to cut one of the most rewarding programs available to high school students is wrong and the house leadership needs to rethink their position.
I had the unique opportunity to spend six weeks in Washington DC serving as a House Page. I was nominated by Rep. Peter Visclosky and served from late June until just last week. While I was serving, I had the great honor of meeting the Vice President when he was on the floor during Gabriel Giffords’s return to congress and was able to witness the historical vote on the debt ceiling. The program was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I was honored to be part of a program that has roots all the way back to the first Continental Congress in 1774.
I feel that cutting a 200 year old program that costs $5 million or 1/1000 of 1% of the federal budget, is a terrible choice on the part of Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner. They never discussed the idea with the Page Board, which consists of Members of Congress and former pages, nor did they tell any of the staff of the program which includes 7 teachers, 4 proctors, 2 dorm directors, 3 secretaries, 2 work bosses, a tutor and a principal. That is a total of 20 jobs that will be lost. Those 20 people now are out of work and were told only days ago. This is a reckless decision on the leadership’s part.
The page program also launched many political careers, including Bill Emerson (R-MO) who was on the floor during the 1954 shooting by Puerto Rican nationals. He was famously captured in a photo, carrying a stretcher out of the chamber. Many other current politicians also served as pages in their lifetimes.
The program offered young Americans the opportunity to see, first-hand, what goes on in our nation’s capital. When I was serving, I was able to hear and see what my future was by the decisions that were being made while I was on the house floor. It was an experience that I will never forget and had hoped that others would be able to cherish but that, sadly, will not happen. The decision to cut the program is wrong and is hampering the future of the younger generations.