WASHINGTON, DC, December 20, 2011 ( – This year, the Christmas wars are coming to Capitol Hill. Members of the House of Representatives have been banned from using the phrase “Merry Christmas” in any “franked,” or taxpayer-funded, correspondence to their constituents, but have been told that “Happy Holidays” is permissible.

A December 12 memo from the Franking Commission Staff reported by the Washington Examiner noted that the “Franking Manual” already bans using taxpayer-funded postage for correspondence whose sole purpose is to mark special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, births, retirements, or holidays.

This year, however, members are being told that even in correspondence sent for otherwise legitimate purposes, the phrase “Merry Christmas” cannot be used.


The ban extends to any e-mail, website, or social media posting that uses “official resources,” according to the memo.

“I called the commission to ask for clarification and was told no ‘Merry Christmas.’ Also told cannot say ‘Happy New Year’ but can say ‘have a happy new year’ – referencing the time period of a new year, but not the holiday,” an anonymous Hill staffer told the news service.

Another Hill staffer reported having been advised of the regulation after submitting a draft mailing.

Franking commission spokesman Salley Wood confirmed that “incidental use of the phrase Happy Holidays is permissible, but Merry Christmas is not.”

Some Congressmen, however, are fighting back.

Illinois Republican Joe Walsh and Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross sent a letter to colleagues Monday asking them to support an effort to change the rule.

“Political correctness is slowly dismantling the meaning of the Christmas and Hanukkah season,” the letter reads, according to the Huffington Post.

“We are not celebrating winter this December. We are celebrating significant moments in two religions that have fundamentally shaped our nation—and as Members of Congress who represent thousands of constituents celebrating these holidays, we ask you to reconsider these outdated and restrictive rules.”

Walsh told the Chicago Sun-Times that the rule was “political correctness run amok.”

The Senate, which operates under different rules, still allows its members to extend Christmas greetings in franked mail.


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