September 29, 2023
After more than a week of backlash surrounding Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's decision allowing legislators to wear casual clothing while on the chamber's floor, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to enforce a formal dress code.
Historically, lawmakers had been expected to wear business attire while conducting legislative business. But last week, Schumer issued an informal policy dropping that requirement, which had been enforced by the Senate's Sergeant at Arms. The policy came as Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman started wearing casual clothes while voting from doorways so he didn't get in trouble for violating the original policy.
This week's resolution, introduced by Sens. Joe Manchin and Mitt Romney, asserts that men are required to wear a coat, tie and slacks on the Senate floor. There are no specific requirements for women, the Associated Press reported. Schumer said the backlash from his decision made it clear that "formalizing" the dress code was the best way forward.
Schumer's initial decision quickly drew ire from conservatives on social media and Fetterman's colleagues in the Senate, with Democratic and Republican lawmakers arguing that the chamber should enforce a dress code in order to maintain decorum.
Sen. Susan Collins joked that she would wear a bikini on the Senate floor, while Sen. Mitch McConnell remarked that legislators "ought to dress up to go to work."
Last week, Fetterman used the backlash over his wardrobe to bait members of the U.S. House of Representatives, arguing that if they would "stop trying to shut our government down" and fully support Ukraine in their war against Russia, he would wear a suit on the Senate floor.
Ultimately, Fetterman voted to approve the formal dress code, telling CNN that he would wear business attire on the Senate floor. After the resolution passed, Fetterman put out a press release with a meme of a mischievous-looking Kevin James shrugging with his hands in his pockets on the set of the sitcom "The King of Queens."