Pages of the United States Congress: Selection, Duties, and Program Administration
Pages of the United States Congress:
Selection, Duties, and Program
Ad min i st rat i o n
Specialist in American Government
Government and Finance Division
For more than 175 years, messengers known as pages have served the United States
Congress. Currently, approximately 100 young men and women from across the nation
serve as pages at any given time. Pages must be high school juniors and at least 16 years
of age. Several incumbent and former Members of Congress as well as other prominent
Americans have served as congressional pages.
Senator Daniel Webster appointed the first Senate page in 1829. The first House
pages began their service in 1842. Women were first appointed as pages in 1971.
Pages are appointed and sponsored by a Representative or Senator for one
academic semester of the school year, or a summer session. The right to appoint pages
rotates among Members pursuant to criteria set by the respective chamber leadership.
Academic standing is one of the most important criteria used in the final selection of
pages. Prospective pages are advised to contact their Senators or Representative to
request consideration for a page appointment. For additional discussion of the page
system, see CRS Report RL33685, Pages of the United States Congress: History,
Background Information, and Proposals for Change, by Mildred Amer.
Pages serve principally as messengers. They carry documents between the House
and Senate, Members’ offices, committees, and the Library of Congress. They also
prepare the House and Senate chambers for each day’s business by distributing the
Congressional Record and other documents related to the day’s agenda, assist in the
cloakrooms and chambers; and when Congress is in session, they sit near the dais where
they may be summoned by Members for assistance. In the House, pages also raise and
lower the flag on the roof of the Capitol.
There are 72 House page positions, 48 of which are allotted to the majority party and
24 to the minority party. The House page program is administered by the Office of the
Clerk and supervised by the House Page Board, which is composed of two Members from
each party, including the chair, as well as the Clerk and the Sergeant at Arms of the
House, a former House page, and the parent of a House page.2 The chair of the Page
Board, currently Representative Dale Kiledee (D-MI), is chosen by the Speaker of the
House pages are paid at the annual rate of $20,181.3 Automatic, monthly deductions
are taken from their salaries for federal and state taxes, Social Security, and a residence
hall fee of $400, which includes five breakfasts and seven dinners per week.4 The pages
are required to live in the supervised House Page Dormitory near the Capitol. They are
responsible for the cost of their uniforms — navy jackets, dark grey slacks or skirts, long
sleeve white shirt, and black shoes — and transportation to and from Washington, DC.5
During the school year, they are educated in the House Page School located in the
Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. The page school, which is
accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, offers a junior-year
high-school curriculum, college preparatory courses, and extracurricular and weekend
activities. Classes are usually held five days a week, commencing at 6:45 a.m., prior to
the convening of the House.
Any questions regarding the operation of the House page program should be directed
to the Office of the House Clerk, H-154, U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC 20515.
There are 30 Senate page positions, 16 for the majority party and 14 for the minority
party. The office of the Sergeant at Arms supervises the Senate page program.
Senate pages are paid at the annual rate of $20,491.6 Automatic deductions are made
from their salaries for taxes and Social Security as well as the $600 residence hall fee,
which includes breakfast and dinner seven days a week.7 Pages must pay their
1 For further information, please refer to [http://pageprogram.house.gov].
2 2 U.S.C. 88b-3(a), as amended by P.L. 110-2.
3 House pages are now paid pursuant to P.L. 91-510, Section 491(e), 84 stat. 1198.
4 “Establishing A Revolving Fund For the Page Residence Hall and The Page Meal Plan” (H.Res.
5 U.S. Congress, House, Office of the Clerk [http://pageprogram.house.gov], visited May 6, 2008.
6 Senate pages are now paid pursuant to P.L. 91-510, Section 491(e), 84 stat. 1198.
7 “Senate Page Witholding” (S.Res. 78), Congressional Record, vol. 129, Mar. 2, 1983, p. 3526.
transportation costs to Washington, DC, but their uniforms are supplied. The uniforms
consist of navy blue suits, white shirts, dark socks, and black shoes.8
The Senate provides its pages education and supervised housing in the Daniel
Webster Page Residence near the Hart Senate Office Building. The Senate Page School
is located in the lower level of Webster Hall. Pages who serve during the academic year
are educated in this school, which is also accredited by the Middle States Association of
Colleges and Schools. The junior-year curriculum is geared toward college preparation
and emphasis is given to the unique learning opportunities available in Washington, DC.
Early morning classes are held prior to the convening of the Senate. Questions regarding
the Senate page program or Webster Hall should be directed to Director, United States
Senate Page Program, Webster Hall, Washington, DC 20510-7248.
8 Information provided by the director of the Senate Page Program.