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“I can’t understand exactly what he was thinking at that point,” Durbin said of Schumer. “I want to give him the benefit of the doubt until I speak to him but I think the Senate needs to act on this.”
Durbin reportedly made the comments during an interview with “The Briefing with Steve Scully” on SiriusXM’s POTUS channel, which is set to air on Friday.
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.
In a statement to Axios, the first news outlet to report the change over the weekend, Schumer said senators “are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor.” The majority leader also said he will continue to wear a suit.
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 dubbed “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.
After 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, Fetterman presided over the Senate on Wednesday wearing a short-sleeve shirt, no tie.
Reporters spotted him wearing the same casual attire heading to a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.
Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) arrives for the Senate's closed-door meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a short-sleeve shirt and shorts. pic.twitter.com/2ZWIdGBWYn
— The Recount (@therecount) September 21, 2023
Durbin reportedly said the “senator in question from Pennsylvania is a personal friend, but I think we need to have standards when it comes to what we’re wearing on the floor of the Senate, and we’re in the process of discussing that right now as to what those standards will be.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who led a letter signed by dozens of GOP colleagues urging Schumer to reverse the “misguided” rules change, complimented Durbin for speaking out.
“Bipartisan agreement is a wonderful thing. Glad to see [Durbin] agree that the Senate should not abandon its standards,” Scott said in a post to X.
“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.