The U. S. Capitol Page Alumni Association starts rolling into town today for a reunion weekend jam-packed with educational activities and nostalgia-stoking get-togethers. Too bad most of Congress won’t be around to participate.
The “Page Alumni Homecoming” not only falls on a long weekend — Memorial Day, for you noncalendar watchers — but also smack-dab between rolling recesses (the House returns just as the Senate skips town) that have kept lawmakers from the two chambers on different pages, so to speak, throughout most of the 112th Congress. While USCPAA President Jerry Papazian said he is hoping for a stellar turnout — “This first-ever homecoming will bring together Americans who roamed the halls of Congress as young messengers from the World War II era through 9/11 and beyond,” he trumpeted in a news release — the reality is that most lawmakers would rather be home for the holiday.
HOH reached out to sitting lawmakers who actually went through the page program. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) was the only one to even tentatively sign on — “Sen. Wicker hopes to attend some of the events,” his staff said — for the commemorative confab. The other respondents seemed inclined to sit this one out.
Members who were pages back when include Democratic Reps. John Dingell (Mich.) and Dan Boren (Okla.).
Returning alumni are expected to fan out across the Capitol through Sunday, engaging in panel discussions, tours of the House and Senate floors (plus the Supreme Court) and an awards dinner Saturday night.
In August, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that they were killing the House page program. They said the decision was based on the findings of a report by independent contractors that found the program costs $5 million a year and that pages’ duties have become obsolete because of technology.
The Senate has stuck with its own program.