House administrators estimate that Capitol switchboard operators are fielding roughly 40,000 calls per hour from constituents and that perhaps just as many callers are experiencing busy signals a full day after radio host Rush Limbaugh gave his listening audience the Capitol switchboard phone number and encouraged them to call it.
That means that in an eight-hour window, the Capitol is being deluged with more than 300,000 phone calls, said Jeff Ventura, spokesman for the Chief Administrator’s Office. The barrage is about 10 times what the switchboard usually receives, he added.
“This doesn’t surprise me. It’s going to be that way all week, until they vote [on health care reform]. No doubt about it,” he said. “For everyone who doesn’t get through, they’ll just say to themselves, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’”
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