Senate Page tells of purple ribbon experience

By Marj Frew

During his 4-H Public Presentation, Gabe Fanning spoke of the history of the U.S. Senate Page Program. Fanning has personal experience of the program, having served as a Page for the Spring 2019 Senate term. His presentation and experience were both worthy of a purple ribbon.

Fanning was one of 30 high school juniors, nationwide, selected to this honor. Fanning described his job as being a glorified messenger, delivering memos and correspondence to assist in coordinating offices.

Officially, a Senate Page’s duties are primarily of delivery of correspondence and legislative material within the Congressional building.

In keeping with the traditional way of the Senate, much of the work of voting and delivering bills in the Senate is still done by hand, as the paper copies are delivered by the Pages. 

Other tasks done by the Pages were a little more comical. Fanning told of how some of his work involved delivering candy, and trying to find milk for a cup of coffee, as it took close to an hour to accomplish.

Pages also, at times, work the phones in the Senate offices, and serve as doormen at the doors of the Senate floor during voting.

In his speech, Fanning told of the history of the Pages, which dates back to 1829, when a young Daniel Webster hired the first Senate Page. The early Pages were typically orphans who were trying to help support their families.

In order to become a Page in the current system, a person must be nominated by their state Senator, as Fanning was by Senator John Thune. A detailed selection process of applications and forms narrows the field of applicants, then a Senator may nominate a Page if that Senator is awarded a Page position. Thirty Pages serve 100 Senators, therefore Senators are awarded position normally based on seniority in the Senate.

Fanning’s favorite part of his time in Washington, D.C., was “Attending the State of the Union Address, and when Senator Wickersham sat on the roster with us.”

Fanning’s favorite part of his time in Washington, D.C., was “Attending the State of the Union Address, and when Senator Wicker sat on the rostrum with us and talked of the bravery and the audacity of our founding fathers to create this new form of republican government.”

Fanning answered many questions at the end of his presentation. He listed his future plans as “Attending college, then to earn a law degree of some sort.”

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