Rep. Dan Boren on Tuesday became the first Member to introduce legislation that would restore the House page program.
The Oklahoma Democrat introduced the bill along with fellow former page and Dean of the House Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).
The legislation would direct the House Administration Committee to create a nine-member advisory panel tasked with recommending ways to efficiently reinstate the program.
“I am committed to restoring the tradition of young people serving in the House of Representatives,” Boren, who was a Senate page under the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), said in a statement. “Since the short-sighted decision to end the program was handed down by leadership, my office has received an outpouring of support for the reinstatement of the program. I understand the need to cut our expenses in Washington, but we may be able to run the program with no cost to taxpayers based on the recommendations of the advisory panel.”
The panel would comprise three Democrats, three Republicans and three former House pages and would seek to reduce the cost of the program while modernizing the role of the pages.
The program would be reinstated the semester following the panel’s recommendations.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced in a joint statement last month that the program was being canceled. Last week marked the first time the House convened without pages.
The legislation follows a letter sent by Boren, Dingell, Cuellar and 26 other Members late last month to Boehner and Pelosi expressing “deep concern” about the decision.
Dingell, who served as a House page and was in the chamber for President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1941 “Day of Infamy” speech following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, said the advisory panel could help address the problems that led to the termination of the program and make the program more efficient in the long run.
“As a former page myself, I know firsthand the benefits this program brings to young people,” Dingell said in a statement. “While I understand the fiscal constraints currently facing our nation, we must not forget the value this program brings to young people and the House of Representatives as a whole. Getting young people engaged in public service is certainly valuable.”