Members of the public phoning the White House during the US government shutdown are being played a recorded message blaming congressional Democrats for the fact that their call cannot be taken.
People calling the White House telephone comment line 202-456-1111 received the following recorded message:
Thank you for calling the White House. Unfortunately, we cannot answer your call today, because congressional Democrats are holding government funding, including funding for our troops and other national security priorities, hostage to an unrelated immigration debate. Due to this obstruction, the government is shut down. In the meantime, you can leave a comment for the president at www.whitehouse.gov/contact. We look forward to taking your calls as soon as the government reopens.
A US government shutdown is triggered when Congress fails to pass funding for government operations and agencies, but the effects exclude those that are deemed “essential”. Defence workers, the work of the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI are usually included in that “essential” category, making the message’s reference to troops and national security even more controversial.
The line normally offers callers the choice of a few automated options, about visiting the White House on a tour or finding out the postal address, before giving the option to leave a message for the president. It is usually staffed by volunteers who can relay messages to the president, and was briefly closed towards the end of the Obama administration, but reopened in February 2017 after the Trump administration came to power.
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