After being targeted by withering criticism for a dress code for women in the House, even though that dress code had been instituted decades ago, Speaker Paul Ryan announced at his weekly news conference that he had asked the House sergeant-at-arms to “update” the dress code.
The code bars women from wearing sleeveless and open-toed shoes; it also requires men to wear jackets and a tie.
Ryan stated, “Decorum is important, especially for this institution, and a dress code in the chamber and in the lobby makes sense. But we also don’t need to bar otherwise accepted contemporary business attire, so look for a change on that soon.”
Ryan added, “The sergeant-at-arms was simply enforcing the same interpretation of the rules as under my predecessors. This is nothing new and it’s certainly not something that I devised. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean that enforcement couldn’t stand to be a bit modernized. So that is why we will be working with the sergeant-at-arms to ensure the enforcement of appropriate business attire is updated.”
On Wednesday, Rep. Martha McSally of Arizona decided to push Ryan harder, stating on the House floor, “Before I yield back, I want to point out I’m standing here in my professional attire, which happens to be a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi responded to Ryan’s announcement by tweeting: “Glad to see @SpeakerRyan is updating the dress code for the House Floor. These unwritten rules are in desperate need of updates.”