Senator John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania) will have to suit up, as the U.S. Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to codify a business dress code that includes a coat, tie, and slacks for men.
The bipartisan bill was introduced by Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney.
However, the resolution didn’t specify what is deemed as business attire for women on the Senate floor.
This new dress code comes after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer opted to stop enforcing the unwritten dress requirement, only for it to become a flash point in the Capitol.
“Though we’ve never had an official dress code, the events over the past week have made us all feel as though formalizing one is the right path forward,” Schumer told reporters. “I deeply appreciate Senator Fetterman working with me to come to an agreement that we all find acceptable, and of course I appreciate Sen. Manchin and Sen. Romney’s leadership on this issue.”
Even before the measure was passed, Fetterman – who told CNN that he dressed for comfort and that it is hard to find suits that fit his six-foot-eight-inch frame – had agreed to wear business attire when presiding over the Senate floor.
Fetterman has regularly worn hooded sweatshirts and gym shorts since his hospitalization for depression earlier this year. That was met with ire by some of his fellow lawmakers, including a number of Republicans who argued that such casual dress on the Senate floor would disrespect the institution as well as the constituents they serve. A few Democrats also joined the fight for a more stringent dress code.
SHORTS Act Passes
The bipartisan resolution was fittingly dubbed the SHORTS Act (Show Our Respect To the Senate), and it now requires the aforementioned business attire that includes a coat, tie, slacks or other long pants for men.
However, John Fetterman may not suit up daily. Though he has indicated that he will wear a suit while on the floor, he may also continue to vote from the door while wearing more “casual attire.”
This is only the most recent change to the dress code for lawmakers. In 2017, then-Speaker of the House relaxed rules that prohibited displaying bare arms; while in 2019, then-Senate Rules Committee chair Amy Klobuchar pushed for a change that would allow sleeveless dresses in the Senate chamber.
The United States House of Representatives did have a ban on head covering, which was introduced as a simple resolution in 1837. It was meant to show the break from the British House of Commons, which had a hat-wearing tradition. However, after 181 years, in 2018 a partial repeal was proposed to allow religious accommodation for a number of faiths that practice head covering. This was to address the election of Ihan Omar of Minnesota, who wears a hijab.
Though Fetterman’s choice of attire has been in the spotlight, Arizona’s Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema is known for signature outfits that border on the outrageous at times – and yet, no one has called for her to tone it down.
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A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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