The Washington Times - December 4, 2013, 03:15PM

Members of Congress will now be allowed to include holiday wishes in their official communications to their constituents, after the panel that rules on such matters decided it would be OK.

The Franking Commission, which decides what mail lawmakers can send out under their free mail privileges, said incidental greetings are fine.

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“Effective immediately, members of the House may include holiday greetings in their communications to constituents,” Rep. Candice S. Miller, the panel’s chairwoman, said. “In the past, including any form of a holiday greeting was banned.”

The ban originated in the 1973 law creating the Franking Commission. That law expressly prohibited using the free mail privilege to send holiday greeting cards. In 1975, the commission adopted a strict interpretation of that law, saying even any incidental holiday greeting was disallowed, even if it was in a mailing otherwise focusing on congressional business.

Lawmakers are still prohibited from using the franking privilege solely to send holiday greetings, but can now sign off their holiday-time letters with greetings like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah.”