Sen. Fetterman Presides Over Senate in Shorts After Dress Code Change

Sen. Fetterman Presides Over Senate in Shorts After Dress Code Change
Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senator John Fetterman speaks at a reception for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party in Philadelphia on Oct. 28, 2022. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)
Ryan Morgan
Senator John Fetterman (D-Pa.) presided over the U.S. Senate on Wednesday while wearing a button-down short-sleeved shirt and shorts.
Mr. Fetterman made this appearance as the head of the Senate just two days after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced staff for the Senate Sergeant at Arms would no longer require members to dress in formal attire on the Senate floor.

Mr. Schumer’s decision to relax the Senate dress policy has sparked criticism, with some Republican lawmakers arguing that it lowers the sense of decorum and respect within the body.

Mr. Fetterman, who has traded barbs with some Republicans over the relaxed dress code, downplayed his casual appearance after presiding over the Senate on Wednesday.

“The world didn’t spin off its axis,” Mr. Fetterman told NBC reporter Frank Thorp following his turn at the Senate rostrum. “You know, I just did it ... I think we will still go on.”

Mr. Fetterman has often worn shorts, hoodies, and short-sleeve shirts in Congress. Prior to Mr. Schumer’s decision to relax the dress policy, the junior Senator from Pennsylvania often had to cast votes from just beyond the doors of the Senate floor.

“There has been an informal dress code that was enforced,” Mr. Schumer said in a press statement on Monday. “Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit.”
Mr. Schumer did not mention Mr. Fetterman by name when announcing the change in dress code, but the move has been widely seen as one to facilitate the Pennsylvania Democrat, who suffered a stroke before he won his seat in the 2022 midterm election and who was absent from the Senate for two months while undergoing treatment for major depression.
After the dress code policy change on Monday, Mr. Fetterman said “It’s nice to have the option, but I’m going to plan to be using it sparingly and not really overusing it.” He wore a short-sleeved button-down shirt and shorts during a Monday evening Senate vote, but elected to remain just outside the Senate doors as he had before the policy change, telling reporters “Baby steps.”

Relaxed Dress Code Draws Republican Ire

Several Republican politicians have criticized Mr. Schumer’s decision to relax the dress code for Senators.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said Mr. Schumer’s announcement marked “a sad day in the Senate.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joked that she could test just how serious Mr. Schumer is about permitting casual wear by taking her own choice of clothing to the extreme. “I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow to the Senate floor,” the 70-year-old Ms. Collins said on Monday.

On the House side, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) cast the relaxed Senate floor dress code as a move made specifically to accommodate Mr. Fetterman’s clothing preferences.

Mr. Fetterman has traded insults with some Republicans who have criticized the new dress policy.

After Florida governor and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis criticized the new Senate rules and the Representative from Pennsylvania, Mr. Fetterman appeared to mock Mr. DeSantis’ second-place position in Republican primary polling, stating “I dress like he campaigns” in a post on the X social media platform.

Mr. Fetterman also mocked the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which remains undecided on a 2024 budget while the threat of a government shutdown looms. There are several points of division among the Republican majority in the House, including over limits on discretionary spending and funding for Ukrainian military forces.

“If those jagoffs in the House stop trying to shut our government down, and fully support Ukraine, then I will save democracy by wearing a suit on the Senate floor next week,” Mr. Fetterman wrote in another X post on Wednesday.

Not all Republicans are as critical of the relaxed dress policy.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has taken advantage of the new rules, attending Monday evening’s Senate floor proceedings without a tie, and while wearing jeans and boots. These clothes, he explained, are his usual attire when he flies in from his home state each week.

“Now I can vote from the Senate floor on Mondays,” the Republican senator said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.
From NTD News
Ryan Morgan is a news writer for NTD, The Epoch Times’ sister media publication. He primarily focuses on military and world affairs but also frequently covers U.S. domestic political events.
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