The Senate dress code is getting a modest makeover

In the traditional halls of the Senate, customs die hard and changing rules is impossible. But on Monday, days away from a possible government shutdown, a newly launched impeachment inquiry and lawmakers preparing for a visit this week from Ukraine’s president, a major change caused excitement in the Capitol.

For the first time in centuries, lawmakers are expected to no longer fit in to conduct business on the Senate floor.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and Majority Leader, has instituted a new dress code — or eliminated an old one — allowing members to take a business-casual approach to their work attire.

change, As previously reported by AxiosThat involved directing the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms — whose job, in addition to running security in the chamber, enforces dress standards for everyone entering — as per the previous policy, all senators were required to be in business attire when on the floor. is no longer enforced.

“A casual dress code is enforced,” said Mr. Schumer said in a statement. “Senators can choose what they want to wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear suits,” he said.

The change is a nod to reality in many ways: In recent years, a number of senators have moved away from the suit-and-tie uniform that was considered the only acceptable attire for decades. It most clearly reflects the influence of Senator John Fetterman, a 6-foot-8, tattooed, first-term Democrat from Pennsylvania. After wearing a suit and tie for his first few months in Congress, he recently returned to his signature Carhartt sweatshirts and baggy shorts.

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In Washington there is any kind of change – be it shoes, dress color, Suit shade or wigs – the announcement has created a huge reaction.

Some, including right-wing Republicans, expressed outrage at the routine flouting of rules of order and conduct on Capitol Hill.

“Liar!” stood up in the House chamber during President Biden’s State of the Union address in February. shouted far-right Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia. The dress code change has been called “shameful”.

“A dress code is one of society’s standards that sets etiquette and respect for our institutions,” he wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

(In an apparent response, Mr. Fetterman showed Ms. Green sexually explicit images of Hunter Biden in his own post, breaking Capitol Hill etiquette if it existed. Other Democrats called it Contradictory to Mrs. GreenJan. 6, 2021, who publicly sympathized with the rioters who stormed Congress, should be lectured on decency in the Capitol.)

Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, also opposed the rule change. “It’s not that hard to wear a jacket and tie,” he wrote on social media, “Pants are a must – not optional.”

Unlike most rules governing the Senate, there is no official, written dress code. But by convention, senators have for decades been required to wear informal business attire: usually a suit and tie for men and shrugs or pantsuits for women.

The most recent adjustment came in 2019 after Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, then the top Democrat on the rules committee, successfully lobbied leaders to allow women to wear sleeveless dresses, which the House adopted years ago.

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Even the house It changed its dress code in 2019 Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress to wear a hijab, will be the first to allow the religious headscarf on the floor.

In the Senate, the only solution to the dress code is an exception for votes, where senators are allowed to place a foot on the floor from the nearest cloakroom and signal “yes” or “no” without entering the chamber fully.

But Mr. Fetterman is not the only transgressor of tradition. Over the past several years, senators’ clothing choices — like most white-collar, post-pandemic America — have become more laid-back and occasionally more negative.

Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, turned heads when he showed up to vote in sweaty athletic gear. When asked about his sneakers and shorts, he quipped to reporters that the vote was scheduled in the middle of his basketball game.

No stranger to statement-making fashion choices, Senator Kirsten Sinema turned heads in 2021 when she donned a blonde wig to the polls and presided over the Senate in a denim vest and black T-shirt.

When Richard Burr of North Carolina retired this year after serving three terms in the Senate, he took with him a collection of socks that people had given him over the years. Republican Mr. Burr, known for her sockless footwear choices, once posted on social media that she has 99 problems but socks are not one.

He can sometimes be seen around the Capitol Polo shirt and shorts game And a pair of flip-flops, thrown over a navy blue blazer, she only approved of the dress code.

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