Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has eased up the Senate’s informal dress code to allow senators to wear whatever they want on the floor, which means lawmakers will no longer have to poke only their heads and arm into the chamber to vote if wearing shorts or gym clothes.
The informal rule change reflects the trend in the broader economy, particularly in the tech sector, toward more casual attire in the workplace.
The most obvious beneficiary would be freshman Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), who often sports his trademark hoodie in the Capitol but until now hasn’t been allowed under the informal dress code to walk onto the Senate floor without a coat and tie.
“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit,” Schumer said in a statement shared with The Hill.
Axios first reported Schumer’s statement and the dress code change.
It will not apply to staff or outside visitors, however, who still will be required to wear coats and ties or business attire.
While the Senate’s dress code is described by aides as “informal,” it has been strictly adhered to over the past 20 years.
Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.), who is of Native American heritage, had to receive special permission to wear his customary bolo tie on the Senate floor.
And former Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who would sometimes show up to vote in gym clothes, would signal yea or nay from the Republican cloakroom just off the floor to avoid breaching decorum.
Fetterman, who is 6 feet, 8 inches tall, has dressed up in a coat and tie since being sworn into office in January — such as during President Biden’s 2023 State of the Union address — but he is often spotted wearing shorts, a dark collared short-sleeved shirt or a hoodie around the Capitol.
Other senators enjoy coming to work in more casual attire.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) was spotted last week walking into Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office wearing a burnt orange collared short-sleeved shirt with the Texas Longhorns logo.
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