U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) on Monday made public his holiday wish: To wish his constituents "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Hanukkah" in mail pieces and e-mail newsletters.
Walsh was joined by Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) in circulating a "Dear Colleagues" letter asking that the existing policy of the Franking Commission, which precludes legislators from making holiday greetings in franked correspondence, be revised, The Hill reports.
The two claim that the policy "prevents Members of Congress from addressing their constituents in the manner in which they feel is best and is just one more way political correctness is slowly dismantling the meaning of the Christmas and Hanukkah season."
"The Franking Commission should not be in the business of limiting Members from addressing their constituents in the manner they chose," the letter reads. "We are not celebrating winter this December. 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Members of Congress who represent thousands of constituents celebrating these holidays, we ask you to reconsider these outdated and restrictive rules."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 told the Chicago Sun-Times that the commission's allowance for a secular "Happy Holidays" greeting, but not a more specific holiday message, "strikes me as political correctness run amok."
Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democratic candidate in Walsh's 8th congressional district, criticized the Congressman's priorities as out of whack in response to the letter.
"Let me get this straight: The payroll tax cut is expiring in 10 days, and he’s worried about issues of religion? If that expires, it will cost families $1,000 per household," Krishnamoorthi told the Sun-Times.
The letter does not mark the first time the controversial Tea Party-affiliated Walsh has invoked the holiday spirit in his legislative priorities. Last month, as NBC Chicago reported, Walsh introduced a "Save Christmas Act" with the hopes of blocking a proposed 15-cent tax on the sale of Christmas trees in order to fund a board urging families to buy real, rather than fake, trees.
He criticized the proposed tax as being pushed by the Obama administration, though it was actually an idea conceived by tree growers facing declining sales.
"Christmas has traditionally been a holiday when American families from across the country get together and just celebrate and give," Walsh said in a press release. "And this year, when Americans are hurting and struggling to make ends meet, Christmas is more important than ever."
"Going on Fox News and spouting Tea Party slogans isn't fighting for your country," Duckworth said in the ad. "What we need now in Washington are more practical solutions, and a lot less screaming."
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