You might be wondering, “Wait, they were before?” Yes. Yes they were.
Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, announced today that representatives would be allowed to use ‘holiday greetings’ in official mailings to constituents. The House’s previous policy banned any such festive well-wishes in correspondence.
“While still prohibiting the misuse of official funds, this new commonsense policy allows Members to share their holiday wishes with constituents in otherwise official communications,” Miller said in a statement. “I feel it is entirely appropriate for members of Congress to include a simple holiday salutation, whether it is Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and so on.”
As it was worded in Miller’s statement, the new permission extends to ‘incidental’ uses of greetings — so telling a constituent to have a Merry Christmas after filling him in on the latest goings-on in Washington is A-OK.
The old prohibition had a wide scope, as the Washington Examiner’s Mark Tapscott reported in 2011; an unnamed Capitol Hill staffer told him that ‘Happy New Year’ was not allowed, but writing something like ‘have a happy new year’ was allowed, so long as it didn’t identify the actual Gregorian holiday.
The Senate has no such ban on holiday greetings in correspondence.