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Kildee, DeGette Likely to Join Page Board

After the House overwhelmingly passed legislation to revise the composition of the House Page Board to better manage the chamber’s program for high schoolers Friday morning, the makeup of the revamped oversight body began to come together by the afternoon.

The bill adds a second minority spot to the board, evening out party representation, and requires regular meetings of the body. It also adds a current or former page and the parent of a current or former page to the board who would each be appointed jointly by the Speaker and Minority Leader and serve a one-year term.

The two Democratic appointees to the page board for the 110th Congress likely will be Reps. Dale Kildee (Mich.) and Diana DeGette (Colo.), according to a party source.

It was Kildee, who served as the lone Democrat on the board in the 109th Congress, who crafted the reform legislation that passed the House 416-0 on Friday.

DeGette is a former attorney whose daughter served as a House page during the 109th.

A spokesman for Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Republicans had not yet decided who will fill their two spots on the board but a decision “will be coming soon.” In the 109th, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) served as chairman of the page board and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) served as the party’s second member.

Co-sponsored by Capito, Kildee’s legislation was in response to the actions of disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who was discovered to have sent inappropriate messages to a former page.

The scandal that surrounded news reports in September and October became a black eye for Republican leaders after it was further revealed that information regarding Foley’s interaction with pages was not shared with the full board.

At the time, then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tapped a group of Democratic Members, including DeGette, to look into the Foley scandal and what the page board could do to better protect the program’s students.

In December, Pelosi said reforming the oversight of the program would be an important part of her early legislative agenda as Speaker, and Republicans last week cheered Kildee’s legislation as a bipartisan bill that takes any suggestion of politics out of the process.

A Democratic leadership aide said Friday that the board is working to develop a system for pages and parents to apply for the two non-Member spots.

“It is imperative that we learn lessons from last year’s situation and take the steps necessary to better protect House pages and ensure that any potential problem is investigated fully,” Capito said Friday. “This legislation balances the partisan makeup of the page board. … I believe this provision is important symbolically because it demonstrates that nothing the page board does in acting to keep children safe is partisan.”

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