20110830 housepage
A page carries a stack of American flags outside a meeting on Capitol Hill Dec. 16, 2010 in Washington, D.C. - 

Jeremy Hobson: Today is the last day of the House page program. Due to budget cuts and technological advances, the 200-year-old program that's offered high school students a chance to work in the Capitol is being cancelled. But now, there's an effort to save the pages with private funding.

Here's our Washington bureau chief John Dimsdale.

John Dimsdale: In the age of Twitter and instant messaging, there's no need for high school pages to shuttle bills and documents around the Capitol. House leaders say it's time to save the $5 million annual cost.

But lots of former pages -- like legal scholar Jonathan Turley -- say the program is worth the price.

Jonathan Turley: It was a transformative experience. That's the only way to put it.

Turley says the money isn't an obstacle and House leaders know it.

Turley: Former pages include some of the most successful people in the country. We were prepared to take over the program. Not just administering it -- we said we might be able to fund most if not all of the program.

A bipartisan group of Representatives is also trying to save the program by cutting costs. Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum thinks the number of pages could be reduced.

Betty McCollum: Programs change, and they should change. But we didn't get an opportunity to have a discussion about change. It was abruptly ended.

So far, the much smaller Senate page program will continue.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.