House page program ends

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.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.


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