Congress had a lot to try and cram into the last week of session before taking a long, holiday recess. Passing an omnibus budget, fighting over extending a middle class tax cut and unemployment benefits, that sort of thing. But luckily, Illinois Republican Joe Walsh remembered what truly matters at this time of year.
Fighting the “War on Christmas.”
Upset over a rule that doesn’t allow members of the House to send franked (i.e. taxpayer paid) communications wishing people “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah,” Walsh and a fellow Republican representative demanded that the rule be overturned.
“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.”
But that’s not really what the rule is about at all. According to the memo that sparked the outrage:
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.
Member’s 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.”
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.”
In other words, the House is not allowed to use government funds to send out their Christmas cards, just business related mail. Just as no workplace would let you use their metered mail to send out your own personal holiday greetings, either.
Should taxpayers have to foot the bill for House members to send Christmas cards to their constituents? Isn’t this the sort of “government waste” the Tea Party was allegedly going to take a stand against when they were elected?
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