In a Rare Unanimous Agreement for 2020, 100 Senators Stood to Applaud the Pages
Anna Brown was a U.S. Senate Page for first semester 2019-20. Her edited letter recalls serving during the first week of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, held in the Senate chamber with Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. presiding.
I was a Page during the first week of the impeachment, and it was a time in my life that I will never forget. My fellow Pages and I held our breath all fall wondering if the impeachment would pass in the House and come to the Senate within our semester.
The night of the House vote, my fellow shift of Pages and I sat in the back cloakroom just steps away from the House chamber and anxiously watched on C-SPAN as the votes went up. I clearly remember walking home to Webster that night thinking, “This is history in the making, and I have a front row seat to it.”
The trial started in our final week of “Pagedom” and alongside studying for finals during our limited breaks, we all felt a mix of emotions that week. We were exhausted from late nights and early mornings, solemn that our final week was upon us and in just a matter of days we would be leaving Capitol Hill to return to “ordinary life,” but utterly excited and fascinated that we were participants in the third impeachment trial in United States history. Six months prior when people asked me what I would be doing as a Page, I never once even considered that working during an impeachment trial would be a part of it.
As far as the trial itself, my fellow Pages and I continued our daily tasks, but at about three times the regular speed. Rather than preparing the chamber for a couple of Senators to speak and maybe a few votes, we had to prepare waters and papers for every single Senator all day long.
What I don’t think many Americans know is how little time the average Senator actually spends on the floor in any given day. Having every single Senator on the floor all day long is an extremely rare occurrence. Between running notes for Senators between them and their offices (since they were not allowed to leave their seats), making sure the coffee pot was always full (my personal task), aiding the Parliamentarians and White House Council, running errands for the Cloakroom, and assisting Chief Justice Roberts with anything he needed, our days were busy. There were eighthour stretches where I didn’t stop moving, but as chaotic and fastpaced as that week was, and as much as my feet hurt, I am grateful for every single second.
I was on shift the night the trial went until 2 a.m., and despite being exhausted, I shockingly felt wide awake. I vividly remember one specific moment, when I was sitting on the chamber steps, and I was scanning the chamber to make sure every Senator’s water glass was full. Sen. Rick Scott stood in the back of the chamber, so as not to fall asleep, arms crossed and glasses in hand, ears attentively focused towards the House Representative speaking. Sen. Lamar Alexander sat at his desk with his head resting on his hand, eyes tired, writing down notes. Sen. Mitt Romney was flipping through pages of notes, stopping periodically to look at the PowerPoint on the monitor, then returning to flip through his pages. Sen. Ben Sasse and Sen. Rick Scott were sharing sunflower seeds (technically against Senate Rules) while they listened at their desks at the back of the chamber. Despite being 2 a.m., every single Senator was still actively focused on every word that came out of the House Representative’s mouth. Partisan politics aside, it was that moment, more so than any other, that I recognized what our government truly is—a group of ordinary people, not celebrities or political robots like the media sometimes make them seem, that comes together to do what they think is best for our nation.
This is just a glimpse of the stories I have from my last week on Capitol Hill. Many of my memories from this week are what influenced me to pursue a career in politics (something I was, ironically, not considering before I was a Page).