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Monday, December 11, 2006

Pelosi Pledges Better Oversight Of House Page Program

The incoming speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives has pledged better oversight of the House Page Program, which became the center of a scandal this fall which helped Democrats win control of Congress.

"On Friday, the Ethics Committee found that the failure of the Members and staff responsible for the safety of the young men and young women who serve as House Pages is, '...not merely the exercise of poor judgment; it is a present danger to House pages and to the integrity of the institution of the House,'" says Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi of California.

Former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) resigned on Sept. 29 after it came to light he was sending suggestive messages to underage male pages in the program. The resulting scandal further damaged the Republicans' efforts to hold control of Congress in elections held last month.

Pelosi, to be the first woman speaker in US history, once the 110th Congress convenes next month, says she has discussed reforms of the Page Program with GOP Rep. John Boehner, to be House minority leader in the new Congress.

"As I assume responsibility for the operation of the House, Congress will protect the young people who serve as Pages," she says. "I have spoken with Leader Boehner and we will move forward in a bipartisan way to:

-- Require regular meetings of the Page Board;
-- Review the functions of the Page Board and its membership; have equal Democratic and Republican participation by Members of Congress, add a parent of a current and a former House Page, and determine if other members need to be added to the Board; and,
-- Increase oversight of the Page program.

"For more than 150 years, young men and women from across the nation have come to Washington to serve as pages in the U.S. Capitol," Pelosi adds. "The Page School is a national treasure, and the young people who attend it and work in the Congress are our special trust. We must do all we can to protect them."


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