The United States Senate has unanimously reversed course today by officially codifying a business casual dress code days after moving to scrap the concept of a dress code entirely.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) directed the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms to cease enforcement of the chamber’s unwritten rules regarding the attire worn on the Senate floor.
It was widely understood that the attempt to change decorum expectations on the floor of the Senate was aimed at accommodating Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), who is regularly seen wearing hoodies and gym shorts on the Hill.
Following the decision, 46 Republican Senators — including Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) — signed onto a letter pressing for the rule to be changed back.
“The Senate is a place of honor and tradition, and the Senate floor is where we conduct the business of the American people,” the letter said. “Allowing casual clothing on the Senate floor disrespects the institution we serve and the American families we represent.”
According to the Associated Press, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said he was “concerned” about the relaxed standards, and Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that senators “ought to dress up to go to work.”
Maine’s Senator Susan Collins (R) jokingly told reporters that she would “wear a bikini” onto the floor of the Senate.
Earlier today, the Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan resolution introduced by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) — entitled the “SHow Our Respect To the Senate Resolution,” or the “SHORTS Resolution” — formalizing the previously-unwritten dress code.
While the resolution explicitly noted that men are to wear a coat, tie, and slacks, it did not specify what was to be considered appropriate for women.
The resolution also states that 2/3 approval would be required in order to change the Senate dress code going forward.
“Though we’ve never had an official dress code, the events over the past week have made us all feel as though formalizing one is the right path forward,” Sen. Schumer said, according to CNN. “I deeply appreciate Senator Fetterman working with me to come to an agreement that we all find acceptable, and of course I appreciate Sen. Manchin and Sen. Romney’s leadership on this issue.”
“This is not the biggest thing going on in Washington today. It’s not even one of the biggest things going on in Washington today. But nonetheless, it’s a good thing,” Sen. Romney said in a floor speech on Wednesday. “It’s another example of Republicans and Democrats being able to work together and to solve — in this case — what may not be a real big problem, but it’s an important thing.”
Prior to the resolution’s passage, Sen. Fetterman told CNN that he would voluntarily wear business attire when presiding over the Senate.
This comes after Fetterman was seen presiding over the Senate in a casual, short-sleeved shirt that gives off a markedly different affect than the attire of his other colleagues in the Senate.
Before Schumer moved to relax the dress code, Fetterman had been observed voting from the doorway of the Senate in order to avoid being required to comply with the chamber’s unwritten dress code.
Although Fetterman was not singled out in the official language either bolstering or relaxing the Senate’s dress code, it has been apparent that his choice of attire has been at the epicenter of this discussion, so much so that he was mentioned outright by Schumer on the floor of the Senate prior to the passage of today’s resolution.
“I deeply appreciate Sen. Fetterman working with me to come to an agreement that we all find acceptable, and of course I appreciate Sen. Manchin and Sen. Romney’s leadership on this issue,” Schumer said.
In response to the rule change, Fetterman posted a stock photo of actor Kevin James — popularized by its use online as a meme.