Senate page program suspended, fall semester canceled as COVID-19 persists

Spring pages were sent home in March, Summer pages never arrived

Pages lead the procession of the Senate on Jan. 6, 2017, through the Capitol Rotunda into the House chamber with the Electoral College ballot boxes. The pages’ fall semester has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Pages lead the procession of the Senate on Jan. 6, 2017, through the Capitol Rotunda into the House chamber with the Electoral College ballot boxes. The pages’ fall semester has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted July 6, 2020 at 4:43pm

The fall semester of the Senate page program and page school has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the U.S. Senate Page Board.

Senators, including Wyoming Republican Michael B. Enzi, have had to retract their encouragement for high school juniors to apply to be a page at the Capitol for the fall semester, following the board’s decision last week.

The Senate page program consists of four quarters, two academic year sessions and two shorter summer sessions. The spring semester pages were sent home for 30 days in mid-March, but were never called back into service. The Senate has remained without pages as the summer heats up.

The pages, who are at least 16 years old, usually help deliver correspondence, transport bills and prepare the chamber for sessions, all while attending the U.S. Senate Page School. They can usually count on a rousing farewell speech from a senator when their time on Capitol Hill is up.

[Impeachment cellphone ban gives Senate pages a workout]

But while 2020 began with pages in the spotlight, delivering messages, water, milk and more during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the Senate will have to survive the rest of 2020 without eager teens holding doors open and chatting in the chamber.

The House has been without pages since 2011, when congressional leaders from both parties ended the program. They cited costs and technological advances that made pages obsolete. Since then, members of Congress who had once been pages and other advocates have pushed to reinstate the program, to no avail.

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