Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has relaxed the informal dress code for Senate floor proceedings, prompting some senators to take on a more casual appearance while others lamented the apparent falling standards of the body.
Mr. Schumer said Monday that staff for the chamber’s Sergeant-at-Arms will no longer enforce a dress code on the Senate floor.
“There has been an informal dress code that was enforced,” Mr. Schumer said in a press statement on Monday. “Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit.”
The change comes as Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) has continued to wear casual attire like sweatshirts and basketball shorts as he goes about his duties. Mr. Fetterman has repeatedly cast votes from beyond the doorways of the Senate floor to stay in line with a dress code that bars such casual attire.
NTD News reached out to Mr. Schumer’s office for additional details about the dress policy change but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.
Some Republicans Question New Dress Policy
Republicans in the House and Senate both criticized the relaxed dress code.
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kans.) said Mr. Schumer’s announcement marks “a sad day in the Senate.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joked that she could test just how serious Mr. Schumer is about permitting casual wear by adopting her own extreme appearance.
“I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow to the Senate floor,” the 70-year-old senator from Maine said.
On the House side, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) cast the relaxed Senate floor dress code as a move specifically to accommodate Mr. Fetterman’s clothing preferences.
Fetterman Hits Back at Critics
Mr. Fetterman responded with his own mockery after being singled out in several critiques of the relaxed dress policy.
“Aren’t there more important things we should be working on right now instead of, you know, that I might be dressing like a slob?” Mr. Fetterman said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is running for president as a Republican in 2024, alluded to the relaxed dress code and Mr. Fetterman during an official event addressing first responders in his state.
“The U.S. Senate just eliminated its dress code because you got this guy from Pennsylvania who’s got a lot of problems, let’s just be honest,” Mr. DeSantis said without directly naming Mr. Fetterman.
Mr. DeSantis went on to argue that it was one thing to campaign in such informal attire, as Mr. Fetterman had in 2022, but to go before the Senate in sweatshirts and shorts is disrespectful.
“We need to be lifting up our standards in this country, not dumbing down,” Mr. DeSantis added.
Mr. Fetterman responded to Mr. DeSantis’s remarks by mocking the Florida governor’s presidential campaign.
“I dress like he campaigns,” Mr. Fetterman said in an X post quoting the Florida governor’s critical remarks.
Senators Take Advantage of New Policy
At least a couple of senators tested the waters of this new dress policy on Monday.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who told reporters he had been criticized in the past for approaching the Senate floor without a necktie, chose not to wear one during Monday’s proceedings.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) also took advantage of the new rules on Monday, despite much consternation from his fellow Republicans. He attended the Monday evening Senate floor proceedings without a tie, while also wearing jeans and boots. These clothes, he explained, are his usual attire when he flies in from his home state each week.
“Now I can vote from the Senate floor on Mondays,” the Republican senator said.
Mr. Fetterman also wore a short-sleeved button-down shirt and shorts during a Monday evening vote after Mr. Schumer announced the dress policy change. Despite his apparent role in bringing about the dress code change, Mr. Fetterman still elected to cast his vote from just beyond the Senate doors.
“It’s nice to have the option, but I’m going to plan to be using it sparingly and not really overusing it,” the Pennsylvania Democrat said of the decision.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.