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Senate pages to return this fall after pandemic hiatus

The historic program brings teens around the country to run messages on Capitol Hill

The Senate page program has been on hiatus during the pandemic but will return in the fall. Above, pages ride the subway to deliver copies of a bill to the Senate document room in July 2017.
The Senate page program has been on hiatus during the pandemic but will return in the fall. Above, pages ride the subway to deliver copies of a bill to the Senate document room in July 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate pages will be back in the chamber this fall, another sign that normalcy is slowly returning to the Capitol.

The U.S. Senate Page Board met last week to discuss whether conditions were favorable for a cadre of eager teens to once again dart around the building. 

The program, which typically has four quarters — two academic-year sessions and two abbreviated summer sessions — had been on hiatus since the pandemic began. 

All pages in the program will be required to get vaccinated, said Elizabeth Roach, the program’s director. 

Pages must be at least 16 years old to attend the U.S. Page School early in the morning, before diving into a variety of jobs during the day, including preparing the chamber, delivering correspondence and transporting bills. 

The high school juniors hail from all around the country and must apply to be sponsored by a senator. 

During the first impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the pages could be seen running papers and delivering glasses of water — and sometimes milk — to the senators who were forced to stay in the chamber for hours on end during the proceedings. 

The second time around, during the pandemic, there was a lot less milk as senators were left to fend for themselves.  

Because pages are underage, the program would not share information about whether there will be changes to how the students live in the dormitories.

At least one senator said he’s looking forward to having pages back again — not because he missed them running errands, but because he sees them as the future.

“Often I go out there to talk about what we’re considering in the context of the next generation of Americans,” Sen. Michael Bennet said. “And when the pages are there, you can speak almost directly to them … you can refer to their interests as representatives of the next generation.”

The Colorado Democrat, who was a congressional page himself about four decades ago, sees the program as a way to get kids excited about public service.

“I was here only in the summer, but I remember it as a great experience,” he said. “I learned a lot from it.”

While teens will soon roam the halls of the Senate again, the House side will remain page-free, as it has been for a decade. Congressional leaders scuttled the House program in 2011, citing costs and rising technology that made some of the duties obsolete. 

Others blamed the conduct of GOP Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned in 2006 after sending sexually explicit messages to underage pages. 

“I was really angry [it had to end] because of the bad behavior” of adults, page program alumnus Herb Harris told CQ Roll Call in 2019.

These days, the Capitol Page Alumni Association still pushes for a House revival. 

“We’re very much looking forward to the return of the Senate Page program” in the fall, President Jerry Papazian wrote in an email this week. “We remain hopeful that the House will soon re-establish a page program that will give young people the same experiences we were fortunate to enjoy.”

Paul V. Fontelo contributed to this report.

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