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House Phone System Malfunctions During Maintenance

Phones in the House went down Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The phone system in the House went down for roughly one hour Tuesday morning, causing some lawmakers to direct phone calls to their district offices.  

Engineers for the chief administrative officer sent a message at 10:43 a.m. to House offices stating, "CAO Engineers are working to resolve a problem preventing external phones from calling House phone numbers." One hour later, CAO engineers sent another notice that they had "resolved the problem with incoming phone calls."  

The notice did not indicate the cause of the malfunction. When asked about the cause, CAO spokeswoman Emily Goodin wrote in an email to CQ Roll Call, "Routine maintenance was being performed on the phone system when a temporary outage occurred.  The problem has been resolved.”  

Though the problem was eventually resolved, the malfunction caused some chaos on Capitol Hill.  

A handful of lawmakers' Twitter accounts attempted to alert constituents about the issue, instructing those looking to contact them to call their district offices.

In Rep. Brad Wenstrup's Longworth office, Communications Director Greg Brooks first noticed the phone problem around 10:30 a.m. Brooks told CQ Roll Call he was expecting a call from someone, but received an email instead, saying they couldn't get through. Staffers in the Ohio Republican's office began investigating the problem, and discovered word was spreading on an internal listserv.  

"Our phones in DC are experiencing technical difficulties," Wenstrup's official account tweeted at 10:54 a.m., along with contact info for the congressman's Cinncinatti office.  

Fellow Ohio Republican Pat Tiberi tweeted about the problems with the phones in his Longworth office one minute later, instructing those in need of assistance to contact his office in Worthington, Ohio.  

Rep. David Joyce, D-Ohio, cited "technical difficulties" in Washington on social media . The phones were down for about 45 minutes, according to Kevin Benacci, Joyce's deputy chief of staff.  

Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., alerted his constituents to the "out-of-order" phones.  

District staff for Rep. Lynn Jenkins helped the Kansas Republican's Capitol Hill office realize the phone lines were down, according to spokesman Tom Brandt. The office sent out a tweet , instructing callers to dial Jenkins' Topeka office. About 10 to 15 minutes after the problem was discovered, the phones began working, Brandt said.  

As of noon, Rep. Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., was the only congressman to tweet that his phones were back up. A GOP staffer in Las Vegas said staff on the Hill notified Hardy's district team of the issue. It was resolved 25 minutes later.  

Emily Cahn contributed to this report.

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