Lawmakers reacted to the change in dress code in the United States Senate and Sen. John Fetterman’s (D-Pa.) appearance in casual attire to preside over the governing body.
The Pennsylvania lawmaker presided over the Senate on Sept. 20, as the Senate leader, wearing a button-up, short-sleeve shirt, and shorts just two days after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his decision that the Senate Sergeant at Arms staff would no longer compel senators to wear formal clothes on the Senate floor.
Some senators have asserted that Mr. Schumer’s move to alter the Senate dress standard undermines body etiquette and respect.
“The senator in question from Pennsylvania is a personal friend, but I think we need to have standards when it comes to what we’re wearing on the floor of the Senate, and we’re in the process of discussing that right now …”
“I said, ‘John, I think it’s wrong & there’s no way I can comply with that’… I wanted to tell him directly that I totally oppose it & I will do everything I can to try to hold the decorum of the Senate.”
“I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow to the Senate floor and [Sen.] Chris Coons [D-Del.] is gonna wear shorts because there’s no dress code anymore,” Collins jokingly told reporters Sept. 18 after news of the change broke.
When asked why the change bothered her, Ms. Collins replied, “Because I think there is a certain dignity that we should be maintaining in the Senate, and to do away with the dress code, to me, debases the institution.”
“Now, obviously, I’m not gonna wear a bikini,” she added. “But of all the issues that we have to deal with right now, ranging from the possibility of the government shutting down to what we do about Ukraine, we’re talking about the Senate dress code? That’s extraordinary to me.”
After presiding over the Senate on Wednesday, Mr. Fetterman, who has exchanged jabs with some Republicans over the relaxed dress code, downplayed his informal appearance.
In Congress, Mr. Fetterman has frequently donned shorts, hoodies, and short-sleeve shirts. Prior to Mr. Schumer’s decision to modify the dress code, the junior Pennsylvania senator frequently had to vote from just outside the Senate’s doors due to the standards.