WASHINGTON — With the United States poised on the brink of a potential default, President Barack Obama appealed to Americans to “make your voice heard” to members of Congress.
They appear to have listened.
Heavy traffic caused a number of websites of members of Congress to crash overnight and the congressional switchboard was deluged with phone calls on Tuesday.
The websites of several members of the House of Representatives and Senate, both Democrat and Republican, were sluggish or simply unavailable, apparently due to the greater than usual volume of visitors.
Attempts to visit the websites of several members of the House were met with the message “the site you requested is currently unavailable” while the sites of a number of senators were slow to load.
The House switchboard sent an internal email to members of the body saying that due to “high volume of external calls” House telephone circuits were “near capacity resulting in outside callers occasionally getting busy signals.”
Dan Weiser, communications director for the Chief Administrative Officer of the House, said around 35,000 phone calls had been received for members of the chamber between 10:00 am and 11:00 am.
“Our peak today was between noon and 1:00 when we received 40,000 phone calls,” Weiser said. “A normal number of phone calls in an hour is about 20,000. There’s certainly been more than normal.”
Weiser also told AFP that House websites which experienced loading issues following Obama’s speech were hosted by private vendors and not by the House itself.
The office of Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida, said Tuesday it had received “hundreds of calls” about the president’s speech.
“Most folks just want Congress to act, and Senator Nelson agrees,” his office said in a statement. “He believes the president was right in saying both political parties bear responsibility for running up the federal debt.”
In his speech Monday night, Obama said “the American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.
“So I’m asking you all to make your voice heard,” Obama said. “If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your member of Congress know.
“If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message,” Obama said.