The Senate has officially approved a resolution that for the first time codifies a dress code, requiring members to show up in business attire. This comes after a brief departure from tradition when Senator John Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat, pressed to vote and preside in shorts and a hoodie. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a relaxing of the decades-old dress policy, prompting backlash and concerns from some senators. The new, enforceable standards were put forth by Senators Joe Manchin III and Mitt Romney, asserting that “business attire” is required for all members.
The decision to formalize the dress code came after a bipartisan backlash over Schumer’s directive to no longer police outfits for members. He made this move to accommodate Senator Fetterman, who is often seen in the Capitol wearing his signature Carhartt sweatshirts and baggy shorts. To put an end to the clothing choice debate, Manchin and Romney circulated a draft of the proposed changes earlier this week. While acknowledging that the issue is not the biggest concern in Washington, Romney and Manchin believe it is a positive step. Manchin emphasized that the decision was a team effort, and he worked with Fetterman to find a workable solution.
Previously, senators assumed there were basic written rules of decorum and conduct, including a dress code, when serving in the Senate. However, it was discovered that there was no formal policy in place. Therefore, Manchin saw an opportunity to establish a measure that would last for centuries. The new dress code requires a two-thirds vote to make any changes, a threshold even higher than the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Senator Fetterman, who was at the center of the controversy, did not directly respond to questions about the new rule but instead shared a viral meme shrugging off the issue.