The House’s longest-serving current member, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), is calling on Republican and Democratic leadership to justify their recent decision to terminate the page program.
In a letter sent Friday to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Dingell expressed concerns about the recent cancellation of the program — in effect for nearly 200 years — due to prohibitive costs and advances in technology.
So, the pages were an anachronism, left over from an earlier age where you might need to send a runner from one office to another (or to fetch coffee or the Congressman's dry cleaning), and as a cost saving measure, in difficult economic times, there is no cut so small that some Democrat somewhere will not protest. No program, however antiquated that should be terminated. What was it that Ronald Reagan said? "A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!"
Boehner and Pelosi’s offices have not responded to requests for comment. The House leaders announced their decision to terminate the program in a joint statement Aug. 8, saying the program will come to an end as of Aug. 31.
The page program employs roughly 70 high school students to serve as messengers and couriers on the House floor and around the Capitol complex, offering them the opportunity to work and attend high school in Congress for a semester, or for several weeks during the summer.
“This decision was not easy, but it is necessary,” Boehner and Pelosi wrote of the cancellation, noting that the cost to operate the program exceeds $5 million annually.
To paraphrase Everett Dirksen, "Five million here and five million there, and pretty soon, it'll add up to real money!" I wonder if Dingell will ever figure out that he could hire whomever he wants out of his own office budget? Nah. Maybe the honor of having a berry named after him has gone to his head?