GOP's Hastert at war with Democrat over 'Christmas' tree

Sen. Patty Murray avoids C-word, opts for 'holiday' at national lighting ceremony

By Joe Kovacs
© 2006

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., called this a "holiday tree" while House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., referred to it as a "Christmas tree" during last night's 43rd annual lighting of the "U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree"

When Democrats won control of Congress in November's election, the victory may have reignited a controversy many Americans thought had been settled a year ago – and that is what to call the national tree in front of the U.S. Capitol.

In 2005, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., instructed federal officials to refer to it as the "Capitol Christmas Tree," after having been called the "Capitol Holiday Tree" since the 1990s.

But at last night's lighting ceremony for the 65-foot Pacific Silver Fir, the Democrat senator from the tree's home state of Washington never used the word "Christmas" in her speech to the assembled crowd, opting instead for the term "holiday tree" twice.

"It is so wonderful and such an honor to be here tonight in the nation's capital as we light what we all believe from the other end of the country is the best holiday tree ever," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. (Read More)