In a surprising move, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has decided to eliminate the dress code requirement for senators on the Senate floor. The decision to abandon the rule, which mandated male senators to wear a jacket and tie and female senators to wear dresses or other business attire, comes several months after Senator John Fetterman faced criticism for wearing a hoodie on the Senate floor. Schumer reportedly instructed the Senate's Sergeant at Arms to stop enforcing the dress code, marking a significant shift in the Senate's approach to attire.
Conservatives were quick to condemn Fetterman's casual fashion choices, with some accusing him and the Democrats of disrespecting American institutions. Tim Young, a conservative comedian, tweeted, "John Fetterman's attire in the Senate perfectly summarizes Democrats lack of respect for Americans and our institutions." Fetterman, who stands at an imposing height of 6 feet 8 inches, often opted for more informal clothing, such as hoodies, gym shorts, and sneakers, instead of the traditional suit and tie. His decision to dress down was attributed to his struggle with clinical depression, for which he sought treatment at Walter Reed National Medical Center.
Previously, Fetterman had found ways to circumvent the dress code rule by voting from the doorway of the Democratic cloakroom or the side entrance to the Senate floor, rather than being physically present on the floor itself. However, Schumer's recent directive indicates a shift in the Senate's approach to attire. When asked about the change, Senator Peter Welch jokingly remarked, "He's setting a new dress code. He was struggling. And now he's a joyful person to be around."
Schumer confirmed the policy change, stating, "Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit." The new directive is set to take effect this week, according to Senate officials cited by Axios. However, it is important to note that the dress code exemption only applies to senators and not staff members, who will still be required to adhere to professional work-appropriate clothing standards.
This move by Schumer marks the second amendment to the Senate dress code in recent years. Approximately five years ago, the dress code was modified to allow female senators to wear sleeveless dresses or shirts, permitting them to show their arms. However, the new change represents a broader shift in the Senate's approach to attire, allowing senators greater flexibility in their wardrobe choices.
While the decision has garnered mixed reactions, with some praising the move as a step towards inclusivity and individual expression, others worry that it may detract from the seriousness and professionalism of the Senate. Nevertheless, Schumer's decision reflects a changing landscape in the political sphere, where traditional norms are being reassessed and challenged. As the dress code exemption takes effect, the Senate floor may see a more diverse range of fashion choices among its members.