Rep. Joe Walsh, an Illinois Republican, and Rep. Mike Ross, an Arkansas Democrat, are trying to overturn a rule that forbids the use of “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Hanukkah” in taxpayer-funded congressional correspondence.
Congressional rules state that mail containing holiday greetings cannot be “franked” — Hill lingo for receiving taxpayer reimbursement for postage — according to a memo from the “Franking Commission Staff” obtained by The Washington Examiner.
Members may “make reference to the season as a whole using language along the lines of ‘Have a safe and happy holiday season” but only if it is “incidental to the piece rather than the primary purpose of the communication,” the memo said.
In response to the memo, Walsh and Ross circulated a letter Monday encouraging both Republican and Democratic members to demand the rule be rescinded.
“We are not celebrating winter this December,” the letter reads in part. “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Members of Congress who represent thousands of constituents celebrating these holidays, we ask you to reconsider these outdated and restrictive rules.”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, a freshman congressman affiliated with the tea party movement, told The Daily Caller that the rule represents “political correctness run amok.”
“It is outrageous that members can’t wish our constituents Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah,” Walsh said.
“The purpose of the House Franking Commission is to make sure Members do not use taxpayer money for political or re-election gain, not to enforce political correctness.”
According to Walsh’s office, a handful of members had signed up by Monday evening, with more expected to follow in the coming days.