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'Merry Christmas' Not an Option for Congress Members

Holiday greetings such as “Merry Christmas” may not be sent out in official mail, members of the House of Representatives have been told.


"I called the commission to ask for clarification and was told no 'Merry Christmas.' [I was] also told [House members] 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," a Hill staffer who requested anonymity told the Washington Examiner.

House members must submit all official mailings for review by the congressional franking commission — which determines whether congressional mail can be "franked," or paid for with tax dollars.

Franking commission spokesman Salley Wood told the paper, however, that: "Currently, incidental use of the phrase happy holidays is permissible but merry Christmas is not."

The Examiner cites a Dec. 12 memo from the Franking Commission staff concerning holiday messaging.

The memo reportedly explains:

Members are unable at the current time to use official resources to record holiday greetings, post on social media/website, or send to constituents in franked mail or e-communications.

Members' Congressional Handbook:

GREETINGS — 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.

Franking Manual:

4(a). Example of Nonfrankable Items — Birthday, anniversary, wedding, birth, retirement or condolence messages and holiday greetings are prohibited.

You may make reference to the season as a whole using language along the lines of 'Have a safe and happy holiday season.' It may only be incidental to the piece rather than the primary purpose of the communication.