House OKs Protections for Congressional Pages in Response to Foley Scandal

The House voted Friday to overhaul the board that supervises its congressional page program, seeking to close the book on a sordid e-mail and sex scandal that sullied its reputation and became a Campaign 2006 issue.

Specifically, lawmakers decided that both parties must have equal say in overseeing the program, as old as the institution itself, in which young people come to Washington and carry out a host of tasks in support of the work of Congress.

The purpose of the resolution the members approved Friday was to ensure that teen-age pages no longer are vulnerable to the kinds of electronic-message come-ons associated with now-resigned Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla.

The bipartisan resolution resulted from the failure of the House Page Board's past Republican chairman, Illinois Republican John Shimkus, to notify other board members that Foley had sent questionable e-mails to a former page.

Pages are high school students who learn about Congress while running errands and attending a congressionally-run school

The new, eight-member board will include an equal number of lawmakers from each party and include a former page and the parent of a current or former page. The board also would have to meet regularly.

Foley resigned his seat last September after news accounts revealed how he became acquainted with male pages while they worked in Congress, and then sent them the improper messages after they left — including sexually explicit instant messages.