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Members of the House of Representatives have been told they are not allowed to wish their constituents “Merry Christmas” or “Happy New Year” via the mail.
The Congressional Franking Commission, which reviews congressional mail to determine if it can be paid for with tax dollars, issued a rule saying that no holiday greetings, including the traditional Christmas greeting, may be stated in official mail.
The commission’s website bluntly declares that “the law prohibits the use of the Frank for any card or message expressing holiday greetings for any traditional holiday for example, Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving.”
An anonymous Hill staffer told The Washington Examiner that while a representative is forbidden from saying “Happy New Year” he or she may say “Have a happy new year,” because it refers to a general time period and not the actual holiday. Even at that, the Congressional handbook declares that if a member is to say “have a happy new year” that greeting is to be “incidental to the piece rather than the primary purpose of the communication.”
The Congressional handbook reads:
“Expenses related to the purchase or distribution of greetings, including holiday celebrations, condolences, and congratulations for personal distinctions (wedding anniversaries, birthdays, etc.), are not reimbursable.”
The House of Representatives Franking Manual reads:
4(a). Example of Nonfrankable Items
–Birthday, anniversary, wedding, birth, retirement or condolence messages and holiday greetings are prohibited.”
A staff in the Committee on House Administration confirmed to The Christian Post that these rules are enforced.
However, The Washington Examiner was able to confirm that the Senate is a bit more relaxed when it comes to holiday greetings. The Senate Ethics Committee emailed the Examiner explaining that under certain circumstances Senators are allowed to use official funds to mail greetings.
"Senators may not use the frank to mail holiday cards. However, Senators may use officially related funds to mail holiday cards to constituents. Holiday cards to friends should be sent with personal funds, not using Senate facilities.”
"Senators also may NOT use the frank to acknowledge holiday greetings that were sent to them. Senators may express holiday greetings at the commencement or conclusion of otherwise frankable mail."