Senate Dress Code Scrapped

Although it's not clear it was ever actually a formal rule
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2023 2:53 AM CDT
Schumer Scraps Senate Dress Code
Sen. Peter Welch, center, speaks as Sens. Edward Markey, left and John Fetterman listen, Thursday, May 18, 2023, on Capitol Hill. Male senators are expected to wear a jacket and tie on the Senate floor, but Fetterman's workaround is he votes from the doorway of the Democratic cloakroom.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, File)

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has done away with the chamber's informal dress code, in changes that take effect Monday. Axios first reported the news after Schumer directed the Senate's Sergeant at Arms to no longer enforce the dress code, and Schumer confirmed the news, telling the site, "Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit." (Staffers will still be required to follow the old dress code.) However, it's apparently never been a "formal or written policy," NBC News reports—a fact that, Axios notes, has long baffled Senate watchers.

It was the Sergeant at Arms who enforced the apparently unofficial dress code requiring business attire on the floor, but senators who were coming from the gym or had just gotten off a plane were known to vote while still in their less formal clothing by keeping one foot in the cloakroom, on the edge of the Senate floor, and holding their thumb up or down to vote before exiting the chamber. John Fetterman, in particular, is known for preferring gym shorts and sweatshirts to more formal attire, and he's being named specifically in most coverage of the news. The House of Representatives does have a formal dress code, which was updated in 2017. (More Senate stories.)

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