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Pelosi promises steps to better protect congressional pages

WASHINGTON (AP) Speaker to be Nancy Pelosi said Monday she will take legislative steps to better protect House pages after the scandal involving a congressman sending salacious e-mails to former male pages.

Pelosi, D-California, said legislation would be introduced early in the new Congress to increase oversight of the page program, require regular meetings of the page board and add a parent of a current and a former page on that board.

"The Page School is a national treasure, and the young people who attend it and work in the Congress are our special trust," she said in a statement. "We must do all we can to protect them."

Rep. Mark Foley, R-Florida, resigned last September after it was revealed that he had sent e-mails and other electronic messages to male former pages with sexually graphic topics.

Last Friday the House ethics committee issued a report highly critical saying concerns about Foley's interactions with young male pages arose shortly after he took office in 1995, but that Republican lawmakers and aides had "failed to exercise appropriate diligence and oversight."

Pelosi said she had spoken with Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, who will be the Republican minority leader in the next Congress, and that they agreed they would move on the issue in a bipartisan way.

The history of congressional pages goes back more than 150 years. There are about 70 House pages and about 30 Senate pages. For a semester during high school they live in a Capitol Hill dormitory, attend classes at a page school in the morning and help out in Congress during the day, mainly as messengers.

In the House the program is run by the Office of the Clerk and supervised by a page board consisting of members as well as the clerk and the sergeant at arms.
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