OHS junior’s experience on the Senate floor – Part 2
By Shailey Klein
To read the first part of the series, click here!
While junior Sarah Rosenberg was working in the Senate, she not only served as Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s page, but also as a page for all of the Republican senators. “There are Democrat pages and Republican pages and you can only work for the Senators of your party,” Rosenberg noted. There are 30 pages every semester in the program and they are selected by party, proportional to the majority versus minority parties currently in office. There are 15 boys and 15 girls in the program at a time, and last semester while Rosenberg worked, there were 17 Republican pages and 13 Democratic pages, in line with the Republican majority. “We weren’t allowed to run notes back and forth between senators of different parties because there was information they didn’t want us to know and we had things that we didn’t want them to know,” Rosenberg stated.
While working in the Senate, whether it was running notes back and forth, refilling waters, or even grabbing candy for the senators, the pages were not allowed to speak to the senators unless spoken to. “I wasn’t allowed to talk to the Senators, but they would talk to us and ask us about our day,” Rosenberg noted. Although this was the case, it was not uncommon for senators to strike up casual conversation with the teenagers on the Senate floor.
Both coming from deep college football roots, Rosenberg and Sen. Bill Cassidy from Louisiana connected over their love of the game. “I would talk to him all day long about college football – It was so funny!” Rosenberg chuckled. Sen. Cassidy had a lot to talk about with Louisiana State University’s (LSU) playoff run to win the National Championship this season and star quarterback Joe Burrow’s Heisman Trophy Award. After LSU’s victory in the National Championship game, the team continued the tradition of going to Washington D.C. “The LSU team came to the Capitol, so I met all of them,” Rosenberg stated. Being able to meet the National Champion football team is a unique opportunity, especially for an avid college football fan like Rosenberg. “It was so cool,” she beamed.
Not all interactions with the Senators went as Rosenberg planned though, and one in particular took an unexpected turn. While everyone in the Senate was listening to California Rep. Adam Schiff give his speech about why President Trump should be impeached, it was silent in the chambers. “I bring Senator [Mitt] Romney water, and he turns to me and in full volume goes ‘You watered me, like a plant!’” Rosenberg recalls. Everyone in the chamber turned and looked to see what the commotion was about. “I almost died, it was so embarrassing,” Rosenberg remembers. Sen. Romney, however, was one of the senators who always interacted with the pages.
The Capitol not only hosts the senators and representatives from all 50 states, but also many lobbyists, who often happen to be celebrities. From National Football League (NFL) starting quarterback Drew Brees to the Kardashians, the pages often found themselves in the presence of world-famous sensations. “Famous people, like [actor] Chris Evans who is a lobbyist for Marvel, would be in the Senate all the time, so we would ride elevators with him,” Rosenberg mentioned. “He knew us because we would see him 2-3 times a month,” she added.
Rosenberg and many of the other pages found ways to make the job entertaining, even if it was as simple as running a note somewhere. Requiring 16 year old kids to remain under control in the Senate can result in slight restlessness amongst the pages. “There are floors where no one else is so we would take off our shoes and run the notes everywhere,” Rosenberg fondly recalls. “We would get so bored and I can’t not move so we would find ways like taking stairs,” she added. Sports were a big part of many of the pages lives, so staying active was critical. There is a gym in the Capitol which they had access to, but it was not realistic for Rosenberg and the other pages to utilize it with the constant demands of working in the Senate.