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Sen. John Fetterman, the Democrat lawmaker from Pennsylvania famously known for wearing gym shorts and a hoodie around the Halls of Congress, said he would follow the Senate dress code if elected to office during a radio interview last year resurfaced by Fox News.
Before Fetterman became another Washington, D.C., politician, he reportedly told the Big K Morning Show in early October 2022 while on the campaign trail that he would “only wear what you’re supposed to wear” in terms of the dress code.
“It’s really not about what I’m wearing, and if anyone that’s listening prefers somebody that dresses like a real person, or somebody that lives, excuse me, that wears a $5,000 fancy suit, then that’s really up to somebody,” he said. “You can make your own conclusion.”
Fetterman’s unconventional fashion choice has turned heads since he took office in January. The lawmaker rarely follows the Senate dress code, often making him stick out in a crowd of politicians donning the usual business attire protocol. He reportedly figured a way around the legislative body’s dress code rules by casting votes from the doorway of the Democratic cloakroom or the side entrance.
But the Congress catwalk could all change now that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) directed the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms to stop enforcement of a dress code for Senators a few months after Fetterman made headlines for disregarding the rules.
“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor,” Schumer said. “I will continue to wear a suit.”
The new rule only applies to lawmakers and excludes staff members and visitors.
The decision to relax the chamber’s dress code echoed in the House and the Senate, with some Republicans labeling the change “The Fetterman Rule.” Some even offered wild outfit ideas in jest, while others complained about the transition or indicated that they were not concerned.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was asked if he would restore the old rules if Republicans retake the upper chamber.
“I think I’m pretty safe in saying most, if not all, Republican senators think we ought to dress up to go to work,” McConnell reportedly said. “So I can’t imagine that we’re going to be wearing jeans on the Senate floor anytime soon.”
Fetterman himself offered a reaction to the uproar during an appearance on MSNBC.
“I’ve heard that some people are upset about that, and the Right have been like losing their mind,” he told host Chris Hayes. “You know, they’re just like, ‘Oh my god, you know, dogs and cats are living together.’ And you know, like I said, aren’t there more important things we should be talking about rather than if I dress like a slob?”
Fetterman made a similar comment in a Fox News Digital interview on Monday, adding that he believes the outrage from Republican lawmakers is “a good thing.”
Daniel Chaitin contributed to this report.