Amid a boisterous debate on health care reform, people flooded members of Congress on Thursday with so many e-mails that they overloaded the House’s primary Web site.
Technical support issued a warning to congressional staff that the site — http://www.house.gov — may be slow or unresponsive because of the large volume of e-mail being sent to members.
Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the House’s chief administrative officer, which maintains the Web site, said traffic data was not available and could not be released without the lawmakers’ consent.
But anecdotally, he said, the spike in e-mail volume was widely believed to be a result of the health care debate.
"It is clearly health care reform," Ventura said. "There’s no doubt about it."
Lawmakers are in their home districts this month for the August recess, where a populist backlash has emerged in some quarters against President Barack Obama’s plan to reform the nation’s health care system.
Democrats are trying desperately to regain control of the debate, with the White House posting a new Web site designed to dispel what it called "the misinformation and baseless smears that are cropping up daily." House Democratic aides have set up a health care war room out of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office. It is designed to help lawmakers answer questions about the legislation.
Ventura said the last time he saw such a significant slow-down in the system was in January, shortly before the House passed an $819 billion bill to stimulate the economy.
Ventura said new technology called "load balancing" is in place to try to handle spikes in volume. So far, the House Web site remains available to the public.
In particular, people are heavily using a link on the site called "Write Your Representative," which helps a voter track down their representative by plugging in their zip code.
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