Senate Ends ‘Fetterman Rule’ By Approving Formal Dress Code
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., is seen in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, September 6, 2023.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate passed on Wednesday a formal dress code, putting an end to the brief reign of “The Fetterman Rule” named after Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) and his penchant for casual attire.

Senators approved the resolution by unanimous consent — meaning no member objected to passing it through the expedited process — codifying what were effectively long-standing expectations that senators wear business attire on the Senate floor.

“Though we’ve never had an official dress code, the events over the past week have made us all feel as though formalizing one is the right path forward,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in brief remarks before he brought the resolution to the floor for consideration.

The bipartisan resolution was put together by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mitt Romney (R-UT). The “SHORTS Act” said men must wear a “coat, tie, and slacks or other long pants” on the Senate floor and the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms will enforce the dress code unless two-thirds of the chamber vote for a change.

“Just over a week ago, we all learned that there were not — in fact — any written rules about what Senators could and could not wear on the floor of the Senate. So Senator Romney and I got together and we thought maybe it’s time that we finally codify something that was the precedented rule for 234 years,” Manchin said.

Earlier this month, Axios first reported that Schumer directed the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms to stop enforcement of the informal rules dictating that members wear business attire on the Senate floor.

Relaxing enforcement of the dress code, which had to be more of a tradition than written policy, 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 affected senators, but not staff members.

Though there have been others spotted wearing casual attire on occasion and prior loosening of dress rules for women in the Senate, Schumer’s move generated an uproar that was mainly directed at Fetterman, a freshman member who is well known for often wearing hoodies and gym shorts, leading to the change being called “The Fetterman Rule.”


A report by the Associated Press earlier this year described 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.

Last week, with the dress code slackened, Fetterman presided over the Senate wearing a short-sleeve button-down shirt, no tie, shorts, and sneakers. He sported the same casual attire for a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Both Schumer and Manchin, in remarks on the Senate floor, expressed thanks to Fetterman for working with them to come to an understanding. That deal, per multiple reports, involves Fetterman agreeing to come into the Senate chamber with a suit, but allowing him to keep voting in casual attire from the cloak room.

As the dress code matter came to a close on Wednesday, Fetterman released a “statement” that simply had a promotional image of actor Kevin James wearing a flannel shirt and shrugging in his “King of Queens” sitcom that has recently gone viral as an internet meme.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Senate Ends ‘Fetterman Rule’ By Approving Formal Dress Code