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Senators are speaking out on the decision to relax the chamber’s dress code that some are calling “The Fetterman rule,” a nod to Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) with his penchant for hoodies and gym shorts.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) directed the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms to stop enforcement of the informal rules dictating that members wear business attire on the Senate floor. The change was tailored to only affect senators and not staff members.
“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit,” Schumer said in a statement to Axios, the first news outlet to report the change over the weekend.
As the story went viral, many of the 100 members of the Senate began to react to the new clothing paradigm. Some Republicans joked about it and offered wild outfit ideas while others complained about the change or indicated that they were not concerned.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joked to reporters that she planned to “wear a bikini,” according to NBC News. Fox News reported the senator clarified, “Obviously, I’m not going to wear a bikini,” adding, “But the fact is, as I understand it, I could!”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) shared a GIF of a shirtless Jack Black in the 2006 luchador comedy film “Nacho Libre” in response to Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-MO) asking if they will see Cruz in jorts and a tank top. Their colleague, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), asked on X, “Double standard?” He later added, “Flip flops, cutoffs and t shirts for all!” along with a laughing emoji.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 17, 2023
“Police. Firefighters. Judges. Pilots. They all have uniforms. Ours is a suit and tie. We shouldn’t abandon it because it’s more comfortable to wear sweats,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said on his personal X account.
A HuffPost reporter said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) indicated she was “fine” with the new dress code. “I’m not so hung up on things to think that every single day a man needs to wear a neck tie,” Murkowski said. “If I had my way, we would have summer casual for men so we didn’t have the air conditioning so low and spend so much money keeping this place cold.”
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. So I can’t imagine that we’re going to be wearing jeans on the Senate floor anytime soon,” McConnell said, according to The Hill.
Democrats in the Senate also commented on dress code change, with some taking shots at Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) over a post to X that criticized the new rules.
“The Senate no longer enforcing a dress code for Senators to appease Fetterman is disgraceful. Dress code is one of society’s standards that set etiquette and respect for our institutions. Stop lowering the bar!” Greene said in her post.
“Seriously? You’re b****ing about Senate dress code when House Republicans are about to drive the Federal Government off a cliff? Again? Talk about disgraceful,” Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) said in response to Greene, referring to negotiations on spending that could lead to a government shutdown at the end of the month without a deal.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) reportedly said he spoke to Fetterman about the dress code change.
“I said ‘John, I think it’s wrong & there’s no way I can comply with that’…Wanted to tell him directly that I totally oppose it & I will do everything I can to try to hold the decorum of the Senate,” Manchin recalled, according to a POLITICO reporter’s post to X.
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?”