After nearly 200 years, the House is killing the messengers. Leaders are ending the page program that began in the 1820s, allowing high school students to serve as messengers while getting a behind-the-scenes look at Congress that few Americans ever get.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., wrote House members Monday that the Internet and email have left the pages with little to do. Their message - delivered via mail - said the House could no longer justify the $5 million annual expense.
Pages, usually high school juniors, live in their own dorm, have their own school and at times party like - well, like teenagers whose parents are away. The program, which has adult supervision, has nonetheless been touched by a few sex scandals.
But most of the time, the pages could be seen around the Capitol complex with their dark blazers and neatly trimmed hair, running at warp speed when summoned by a member of Congress. They all were smart, needing a minimum 3.0 grade average in core school subjects to get into the program.