Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticized the U.S. Senate on Monday after the chamber of Congress eliminated its dress code for lawmakers over the weekend, appearing to accommodate Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. John Fetterman.
“We need to be lifting up our standards in this country, not dumbing down our standards in this country,” DeSantis said.
On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) directed the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms to stop enforcing a dress code for senators a few months after Fetterman made headlines for disregarding the rules.
The change is expected to go into effect next week.
DeSantis spoke at Craig Municipal Airport in Jacksonville on Monday, announcing that all Florida first responders would receive $1,000 bonuses for the third year in a row. But as the governor balances his responsibilities as the state’s top official and bids for the White House in 2024, he took a moment to slam the Senate for allowing lawmakers to choose what they wear on the Senate floor.
“Did you guys hear the U.S. Senate just eliminated its dress code?” he asked. “Because you got this guy from Pennsylvania who’s got a lot of problems — I mean, let’s just be honest, like how he got elected? Well, I mean, he got elected because they didn’t want the alternative.”
“But he wears like sweatshirts and hoodies and shorts — and that’s his thing,” he added. “So he would campaign in that, which is your prerogative, right? I mean, if that’s what you want to do. But to show up in the United States Senate with that and not have the decency to put on proper attire. I think it’s disrespectful to the body. And I think the fact that the Senate changed the rules to accommodate that, you know, I think looks — speaks very poorly to how they consider that.”
Relaxing enforcement of the dress code, which appears to be more of a tradition than a written policy, is sure to make life easier for Fetterman in particular. The freshman senator, who has a penchant for hoodies and shorts, reportedly worked around the rules for the Senate floor by popping in to vote from the doorway of the Democratic cloakroom or side entrance.
Fetterman’s preference for cozy attire was seen as a good sign for the senator as he struggled with depression and anxiety following a near-fatal stroke last year, according to The Associated Press.
“People close to Fetterman say his relaxed, comfortable style is a sign that the senator is making a robust recovery after six weeks of inpatient treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where medical professionals treated him for clinical depression with medication and fitted him for hearing aids for hearing loss that had made it harder for him to communicate,” the report said.
Axios noted the clothing standards were previously relaxed to allow women to show their arms.
Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.