Fetterman Takes On Senate Dress-Code Fury With Boebert Jab

Republicans are pushing back at relaxing what senators wear on Capitol Hill
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2023 6:51 AM CDT
Senate's Dress-Code Fury Turns to Fetterman
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., waves to members of the media on April 17 on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

While some are celebrating the Senate's decision to no longer enforce its unwritten dress code—previously, shirts and ties for the guys, covered arms for the ladies—Republicans aren't as thrilled. "Terrible," Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia commented on the change, per NBC News. "It stinks," said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, while South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham noted: "Not a big fan." More on the clothing commotion:

  • Note to Schumer: Forty-six GOP senators penned a letter Tuesday to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Democrat who called a stop to enforcing the older dress code, per the Washington Post. "Allowing casual clothing on the Senate floor disrespects the institution we serve and the American families we represent," noted the letter led by Florida Sen. Rick Scott, which asked Schumer to reverse his decision. "The world watches us on that floor and we must protect the sanctity of that place at all costs."
  • Beach party? GOP Sen. Susan Collins of Maine joked to CNN about her next Senate appearance. "I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow," she said. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, meanwhile, said he'll never be caught in a Speedo on the Senate floor.
  • Fury at Fetterman: There's one Democratic senator in particular who's drawing the lion's share of the barbs from conservatives over the dress code change, reports the Hill—Pennsylvania's John Fetterman, who's become a known presence on Capitol Hill wearing shorts, sneakers, and a hoodie. "A revolting slob" is how right-wing commentator Monica Crowley referred to him.

  • Fetterman responds: The Pennsylvania senator pushed back at a Fox News tweet that looked to place the blame for the "lowered" bar squarely on him, per the Daily Beast. "I figure if I take up vaping and grabbing the hog during a live musical, they'll make me a folk hero," Fetterman tweeted on Tuesday, a reference to Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert's recent controversy. Fetterman also poked fun at GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for their takes.
  • Not all Republicans: Some GOP senators seemed to take a liking to the dress code change. Forbes notes that Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley sported jeans and boots on Monday during a vote, while Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski wore sneakers. Murkowski even said she hoped that men embraced casual attire during the warmer months so "we [don't] have the air-conditioning so low and spend so much money keeping this place cold."
  • Democrats' POV: While most on the left side of the aisle joked about the change or called the GOP hubbub over it "out of touch," West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin is on the side of decorum for this one. He tells the Hill that he spoke with Fetterman directly and told him he thought the change was "wrong" and one that "degrades" the Senate chamber.
  • A long time coming? Etiquette experts tell USA Today they're not surprised about the shift. "It's simply acknowledged that the norms of professional dress have changed," Stanford professor Richard Thompson Ford, who's written about dress codes, tells the paper, which cites a spike in casual dress at work since the pandemic and an increase in telecommuting. "No doubt the trend is away from formal rules."
(More dress code stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.