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Senate Page Lauded for Service During Fiscal Cliff Battle

by Katie Pyzyk — January 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm 4,353 21 Comments

Senate page Jarrod Nagurka and President ObamaAn Arlington teen is doing a lot of storytelling about what he did on New Year’s Eve. He wasn’t out partying with friends, but instead spent Monday working as a page while the Senate scrambled to pass fiscal cliff legislation.

Jarrod Nagurka said he had a short break as the clock struck midnight, so he watched the ball drop in New York City on a television in the Senate Democratic cloakroom.

“Nothing could be cooler than spending New Year’s in the Senate,” said Nagurka. “I was joking around with one of the senators that hopefully I’ll have quite a few more New Year’s Eves, but my days spending New Year’s Eve in the Senate are probably numbered.”

The last time the Senate worked on New Year’s Eve was in 1995, so this week’s occurrence is rather rare. The vote happened around 2:00 a.m. on January 1, after a series of long days. Nagurka said he put in around 80 hours of work in the eight days he served as a page over the past couple of weeks.

Nagurka, who just celebrated his 19th birthday yesterday, is originally from Arlington and is in his freshman year at the University of Virginia. He was one of the 30 students chosen from across the country to participate in the page program in the fall of 2010. Knowing that Nagurka is local and would be on break from school, he was asked to return as a page during the recent fiscal cliff session. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) even took a moment on the Senate floor to thank Nagurka and the few other pages who were able to help out.

“We have 18-year-old Jarrod Nagurka, of Arlington. He gave up his winter break to be here,” Reid said. “I want the record to reflect our deep appreciation for them [the pages], and I wish them the very best in their future endeavors.”

Back in 2010, Reid gave a lengthy speech thanking Nagurka and a page from Maryland, calling them “legislative heroes.” Reid said they took on the work of 30 legislative pages, in light of pages being hard to come by for legislative sessions that suddenly occur around the holidays. Nagurka said due to the serious nature of the fiscal cliff situation, he didn’t expect accolades this time around and was honored that Reid still recognized him.

“When he thanked me on early Tuesday morning, it was really short and that’s understandable because it was right before the vote,” said Nagurka. “Back in 2010, it was longer, but look, he doesn’t have to do any of that. I certainly appreciate that he and others recognize we were there.”

Nagurka acknowledged many Americans’ frustrations with how the fiscal cliff situation played out, but urged citizens to look at things from a different perspective.

“I think a lot off people have a tendency to say they’re [senators] not doing their job and they’re putting their work off,” said Nagurka. “I think people need to realize it’s not just one senator running the country. It’s like you have 100 CEOs trying to run one company. You have people who are ideologically on different ends of the spectrum, so I think that’s where the gridlock occurs. There are certainly parts of the bill that are tough to swallow, but it’s the first time in twenty years that they voted in the Senate for tax increases.”

Jarrod Nagurka and the other 2010 Senate Pages with John Kerry and Hillary ClintonSenate page duties typically include taking care of odd jobs that allow senators to remain on the floor. For instance, Nagurka said he has been asked to do everything from providing a glass of water to delivering legislative paperwork.

“As small of a role as a page plays, it’s kind of cool to contribute to making the Senate run and observe the workings,” he said. “What’s kind of cool for me is I almost felt like a fly on the wall. You really hear the conversations and the inner workings of the Senate, which is really not an experience too many people are fortunate enough to have.”

Although he’s currently majoring in economics, Nagurka isn’t ruling out a career in politics at some time in the future.

“I think politics is definitely something I’ll keep open,” he said. “Political process is so rare, and sometimes people take it for granted in this country.”

Nagurka also is not ruling out another opportunity to work as a Senate page.

“If the Senate was brought back at some unusual time again, I’d expect to go back and help out.”

  • Josh S

    Awesome story. +1 to Nagurka and the rest.

  • Chris

    Cool story. Nice job.

  • Internet Person

    Good for him! Hard working and humble–a bright future, I’m sure.

    I’ve always been curious: When they send a bill to the president for his signature, does someone (perhaps a page) carry an actual stack of papers to the WH? (And when the bill is going back/forth between chambers, how does that physically happen? Does some page/intern carry it physically? Or is it done in SharePoint? Oh, I’m just kidding on that last one. But seriously–how do they do it?)

    • AIH

      Sharepoint +1

    • Eric

      It is delivered by messenger. The Senate pages will move the bill from office to office within the Senate as necessary (ie from the Senate floor to an office downstairs so it can be reviewed for accuracy, to an office to have it signed by the President Pro Tempore). But other staff move it from the Senate to the House and from the Capitol to the White House

      • Sam

        If I’m not mistaken (and it that’s a big if) and to expand on your point, I believe it’s the GPO that moves everything from Senate to House and Capitol to White House.

  • John

    Phil is right. That kid’s the most fake, pretentious, suck up I’ve ever met.

    • drax

      Yet he’s done more than you have.

      • Not Me

        Speculation.

        • drax

          Yep.

  • Nick

    As his roommate, I am floored by how dedicated he is to his work (inside and outside the classroom) and to his friends. He is also a very good and loyal friend.

  • Snuggle Pup

    Nothing like another future lawyer/politician/influence peddler to “serve” our country.

    Ineptocracy (in-ep-toc’-ra-cy) – a system of government where the least capable to lead are elected by the least capable of producing, and where the members of society least likely to sustain themselves or succeed, are rewarded with goods and services paid for by the confiscated wealth of a diminishing number of producers.

    • Quoth the Raven

      Yep, let’s take a nice story about a teenager doing a good job and working hard and turn it against him. Nice work. I suppose you’d be happier if this kid were on the crime report instead of being celebrated as being a good page?

    • JohnB

      Nothing like a story with national political news keywords to draw out the auto-posting political trolls.

    • Josh S

      Pup -
      You do realize it was the cackling plutocrats who invented the term “ineptocracy” to keep you off their scent, right?

      • drax

        He has no idea.

  • JMB

    ” ‘Nothing could be cooler than spending New Year’s in the Senate,’ said Nagurka.”

    Oh…oh, Jarrod…

  • Mark Foley

    I love to IM with him.

  • EJJ

    “Roommate”.

  • http://washgas.com Scott McGeary

    Great story. As one who was a Senate Page from 1969-73, I know well the valuable opportunity the Page program gives young people to be eyewitnesses to history,work closely with legislators, and encourage them to be active in public policy work. Best wishes to Jarrod!

  • PL25rd

    I was a Senate floor page during the government shutdown fiasco in the fall of 1995; these kids work long hours and often with no recognition. I can also say, as an adult now, that I had absolutely no idea of the historical significance of the events to which I was a witness. (I do, however, have a vivid memory of walking into the Rotunda very late at night and laying down in the middle of the floor to look up at the top of the Rotunda – very cool, and completely OK for us pages to do in those pre-9/11 days). Congrats on your hard work and long hours, Jarrod! Don’t forget a moment of it.

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