Tools for Transparency: Better ways to contact members of Congress


A lot of Americans are trying to make their voice heard in the debt ceiling negotiations. So many, in fact, that the Congress’ technology can’t keep up. As the National Journal reports:

When President Obama told Americans to contact their representatives to show support for his debt-ceiling plan, the response was so strong it knocked out several websites for leading GOP House members and nearly overwhelmed telephone circuits in the House.

Non-leadership and some Democrats’ sites crashed as well and problems persist today.

So what can you do when Congressional sites are down? Fortunately there are other reliable digital tools that put you in touch with your representatives’ offices. In fact, they’re often easier and better than the official sites.

  • Congress for Android legislatorIf you have an Android phone, our free Congress app makes it simple. Just select “People” on the first screen, then search by your current location or name. Tap the desired representative and hit the green phone icon (pictured at right). You’ll be connected in no time. There’s also a Windows Phone version too.
  • OpenCongress also lists phone numbers, fax numbers and good old-fashioned mailing addresses on members’ profile pages. You can look for a rep by typing their name in the search box at the top of any page, or find your delegation by entering your zip code under the “Senators” or “Representatives” tabs. Then look to the right sidebar.
  • Twilio created CallCongress, a handy little app that provides one number for all of Congress using our API. Just dial (888) 491-2262. It uses caller ID to deduce your location, then offers a list of local representatives. Select one and it connects you automatically.

Of course, you can also write your Congressperson on Facebook. Check out the GovSM wiki for an extensive social media directory. And TechPresident has a very helpful blog post with even more online resources.