The Senate’s decision to relax its informal dress code led to an unexpected development: a formal dress code. The Senate adopted a formal business casual dress code on Wednesday, only days after its leader had proposed to abolish it. Last week, Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer ordered the Senate sergeant at arms to stop enforcing this unwritten rule and allow members to wear what they want. Senators vote from the doorway to the nearby cloakroom when they are dressed casually. The change was primarily made to accommodate Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman who wears hoodies, gym shorts and other casual clothing at work but not on the Senate Floor since he was hospitalized for depression earlier in the year. It angered many senators, especially Republicans who said that casual clothing in the Senate would be disrespectful to the institution and the constituents they represent. Many Democrats, including Senator Dick Durbin (the No. 2-ranking Senate Democrat. The world is watching us and we need to protect that sacred place at any cost. This prompted Utah Republican Mitt Mitt Romney and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin to introduce a Senate resolution this week that would formally establish an enforceable dress-code for the Senate floor.
According to Politico, the
(Show Our Respect To The Senate) specifies business attire for men, including “a coat, a tie, and slacks, or other long trousers”. The dress code does not mention women.
Manchin stated on the Senate floor, that senators have assumed for 234 year, there are some “basic rules of decorum and conduct, civility as well as dress code.” Last week they found out that there was no dress code. “We wrote this simple, two-page Resolution that will put this all to rest once and for all by codifying this long-standing practice as a Senate Rule,” he said. Before the vote Schumer expressed support for the resolution, and thanked lawmakers including Fetterman for their cooperation to reach an agreement. “Though we have never had an official code of dress, the events in the last week made us feel that formalizing it is the best way forward,” Schumer stated.
Fetterman promises to comply (and provides a meme).
Manchin praised Fetterman’s support and described the resolution as an effort by a team. He stated that they had “many discussions” about the matter.
Fetterman, who presided over Senate in a short-sleeved tee last week, said on Wednesday he’d wear a suit on the floor and vote from the door wearing casual clothing. He has poked fun at the dress-code discourse on X, formerly known as Twitter, and even dropped custom merchandise (tees, hoodies and of course, shirts) to respond to the criticism. He repeatedly urged his colleagues to focus their energies on more important matters, such as the impending shutdown of the government or the corruption allegations against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez. “The silly dress code issue was discussed,” Insider reported. We have other issues that we can address right now. “
After a resolution was passed, Fetterman issued a statement and a tweet with no words. Just a picture of Kevin James in flannel, smiling, with his hands inside his jeans pockets. This meme has been circulating on the internet for the past few days. A government shutdown is imminent
The debate over the dress code played out in Capitol Hill days before the deadline of Sept. 30, which was set to avoid a shutdown. Critics say it was a distraction and that they have used their energy to pass a crucial spending bill rather than codify business casual.
Romney acknowledged this in his remarks to the Senate after the resolution was passed. “This isn’t the biggest thing that’s going on in Washington right now,” he said, chuckling. It’s not SHORTS Actone of the biggest things happening in Washington right now. “
Still he said, a rare victory for bipartisanship shouldn’t go unnoticed:
It is another example of Republicans working with Democrats to solve a problem that may not seem big, but makes a huge difference to many people.