Dial Congress

Introducing a Chrome extension that turns every article you read into a congressional call to action.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Apple and iStock.

Does each day’s news make you so angry you want to ring up your representative? Do you then forget to follow through? Install the Dial Congress Chrome extension and turn every article you read into a congressional phone directory.

In March, as factions within the Republican Party tussled over the American Health Care Act, calls to the House of Representatives spiked. On March 21, Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, tweeted that he’d received 275 calls in opposition to the AHCA with just four in favor. The Washington Post quoted Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Illinois, saying the phone calls his office received ran 1,959 against compared to 30 that supported Paul Ryan’s health care plan. The “resistance,” the Post wrote, had revealed a “previously untapped well of goodwill” for Obamacare. In other words, the men and women of Congress heard their constituents’ voices.

Even in our high-tech era, old-fashioned phone calls from real people make a bigger impact than tweets or Facebook comments. A former staffer for House Oversight Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz confirmed that sentiment in a 2016 interview with the New York Times. Whatever bill Congress is debating, she said, a phone call “brings a legislative issue right to the top of the mind of a member. It makes it impossible to ignore for the whole staff. You don’t get a whole lot else done.” The former Democratic congressional staffers behind the Indivisible Guide have said the same thing: The best way to get politicians’ ears is to ring up their offices in large numbers.

Want to make a call or two (or 200) yourself? Install Dial Congress, an extension for the Google Chrome browser that turns news stories, Wikipedia pages, and Google searches into a congressional phone directory. If you’re reading an article that mentions any member of the House or Senate, the browser extension will highlight that person’s name. If you mouse over, say, a reference to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the phone number for her Washington office pops up on your screen.

The Dial Congress extension—developed by BJ Warshaw—serves as a reminder that you’re only a couple of digits away from the politicians you read about every day. If you don’t need that reminder, you can toggle the extension on and off by clicking the Dial Congress icon to the right of your browser’s address bar. The code is open source and can be inspected here. Feel free to submit bugs or feature requests. Happy dialing!