Manchin Gathers Support To Reverse Senate’s ‘Fetterman Rule’ Dress Code
Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, speaks during a hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023.
(Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is stitching together a Senate coalition to reverse the controversial decision to stop enforcement of the chamber’s dress code, which has been dubbed “The Fetterman Rule” in a nod to one member with a penchant for casual attire.

“Next week, Senator Manchin intends to file a bipartisan resolution to ensure the Senate the dress code remains consistent with previous expectations,” a Manchin spokesperson told reporters on Thursday.

The statement made the rounds after The Hill revealed Manchin was circulating a proposal to undo the call made by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to direct the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms to stop enforcement of the informal rules dictating that members wear business attire on the Senate floor.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said members who opposed the new dress code rules are “the coalition of the rational,” according to the report. Forty-six Republican senators, led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), have already signed a letter to Schumer demanding that he reverse his “misguided” decision.

Relaxing enforcement of the dress code, which appears to be more of a tradition than written policy, has sparked jokes as well as blowback from members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle. The Washington Post editorial board also panned the change, which affects senators but not staff members.

Much of the uproar has been directed at Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), a freshman member who is well known for often wearing hoodies and gym shorts, leading to the change being called “The Fetterman Rule.”

The Associated Press reported earlier this year how Fetterman, after getting treatment for depression, worked around the dress code rules for the Senate floor by popping in to vote from the doorway of the Democratic cloakroom or side entrance.

Fetterman presided over the Senate on Wednesday wearing a short-sleeve shirt, no tie. On Thursday, he wore the same casual attire for a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.


Manchin told reporters this week that he talked to Fetterman and said he thought the dress code decision was “wrong” and that he would “try to hold the decorum of the Senate.”

Fetterman relayed to POLITICO that Manchin “just wanted to acknowledge that it wasn’t like a personal issue or anything like that. And of course, I said, ‘Absolutely. I get it.'”

The Hill reported earlier on Thursday that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who is the majority whip and No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said he was “concerned” about the dress code move and noted that he believed “we need to have standards when it comes to what we’re wearing on the floor of the Senate.”

Some have pointed out that a prior loosening of the dress code in 2019 allowed women to wear sleeveless dresses, giving way to Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) wearing some colorful attire and even a denim vest while presiding over the Senate.

Fetterman has taken to social media to advertise hoodies and other clothing that mocks his critics. He posted a statement on Wednesday stating what it would take for him to dress up.

“If those jagoffs in the House stop trying to shut our government down, and fully support Ukraine, then I will save democracy by wearing a suit on the Senate floor next week,” Fetterman said in a post to X.

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