Republicans are upset about a new dress code policy from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) that will allow senators to wear whatever they choose on the Senate floor.
The new policy is set to go into effect this week, according to Axios, and will no longer require members to wear coats or business attire in the upper chamber, an informal rule that is enforced by the Senate Sergeant at Arms.
“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit,” Schumer said in a statement.
The policy will allow Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), who often wears a hoodie or a short-sleeve shirt along with shorts around the Capitol, to enter the Senate chamber and vote in the well alongside other senators. The Pennsylvania Democrat, who suffered a stroke in 2022, casts his votes by ducking his head through the Senate doors.
The new rules will not apply to staff or outside visitors, however.
Several GOP senators complained about the change on X, the social media website formerly known as Twitter.
“It’s just not that hard to wear a jacket and tie,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) wrote. “Pants are also a must — not optional.”
Police. Firefighters. Judges. Pilots. They all have uniforms. Ours is a suit and tie. We shouldn’t abandon it because it’s more comfortable to wear sweats. https://t.co/Ij9KOETPJkpic.twitter.com/9z8hP76cUX
— Mike Lee (@BasedMikeLee) September 18, 2023
Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said “of course” the policy was changed to accommodate Fetterman, adding that he is being “completely disrespectful” by not wearing a suit on the Senate floor.
“I don’t like wearing a suit more than anybody else but it’s respect for the position that we need to hold high,” Mullin said during an interview on Fox News.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) said she was “horrified” by the change.
“I think people who dress like slobs tend to think they can act like slobs,” Lummis told HuffPost.
Senators typically wear more casual attire in the Capitol when not on the Senate floor or on days when they are traveling between D.C. and their home states. Some GOP senators have also been known to vote in gym or basketball attire without actually stepping foot on the floor.
Fetterman on Monday responded to another GOP critic ― Ga. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene ― by referencing a hearing in which the congresswoman showed what appeared to be sexually explicit images of Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son.
Thankfully, the nation's lower chamber lives by a higher code of conduct: displaying ding-a-ling pics in public hearings. https://t.co/a4sLQ7nSBL
— Senator John Fetterman (@SenFettermanPA) September 18, 2023
Not every Republican thinks it’s a bad idea to let the Senate’s hair down a little, so to speak.
“I’m not so hung up on things to think that every single day a man needs to wear a necktie. If I had my way, we would have summer casual for men so we didn’t have to have the air conditioning so crazy low and spend so much money keeping this place cold,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said Monday, referring to the frigid temperatures in the Senate most days.
“I’ve tried for years to relax that. You can wear nice shirts,” she added.
A frequent complaint about the Senate ― especially among women ― is that the chamber is too cold.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), meanwhile, said that Republicans clutching pearls over the chamber’s decorum ought to turn their attention to former President Donald Trump, who has a history of ditching norms and courtesies.
“If they care about decorum, they should worry a lot more about the ex-president they are supporting and his total lack of decorum,” Hirono said.