The Capitol switchboard was on the verge of being overloaded with calls from across the country Tuesday morning after President Obama called on Americans in an address to the nation Monday evening to contact their members of Congress about the high-stakes debt battle playing out in Washington.
“Due to the high volume of external calls, House telephone circuits serving 202-225-XXXX phone numbers are near capacity resulting in outside callers occasionally getting busy signals,” read an e-mail sent from the House Chief Administrative Officer’s Technology Call Center to members’ offices Tuesday morning. “Outbound calls are unaffected.”
The message suggests that members’ offices “may wish to provide district office staff and key contacts with an alternate 202-226-XXXX extension, if available, until call volumes subside.”
Obama said in a prime-time address Monday night that Americans should “let your member of Congress know” their thoughts about the debt-ceiling impasse that threatens to send the country into default if no deal is reached by Aug. 2.
Since then, the Web sites of several members of Congress have crashed, as The Post’s Elizabeth Flock details on BlogPost.
Reports from members’ offices Tuesday morning were mixed.
The office of Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said that the volume of calls to its Washington office had been “noticeably higher than normal.”
A spokeswoman for Rep. David Schweikert said that the level of phone calls received at the Arizona Republican’s office was “comparable to that during the ‘continuing resolution’ debate of several months ago.”
“Most of the calls we are receiving are organic, positive, ‘hold the line’ calls,” said Rachel Semmel, Schweikert’s spokeswoman. She added that “the calls requesting Rep. Schweikert to sign on to the Reid, Obama plan all seem to be very scripted and Astroturf-like.”
Nathaniel Sillin, a spokesman for Rep. Nan A.S. Hayworth (R-N.Y.), said that the freshman House member’s Web site was down Tuesday morning along with those of some other members because of increased traffic, according to their Web vendor.
“We’ve had lots of calls this morning but not voicing one particular concern or position,” Sillin said. “Just a general increase in activity and engagement. We’ve gotten about 300 e-mails since yesterday, not a huge uptick."
Staff writers David A. Fahrenthold and Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report.
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This post has been updated since it was first published.