The Senate has formalized a longstanding but previously unofficial requirement that members must wear business attire when attending chamber sessions. This comes after Senator Chuck Schumer announced a relaxing of the dress code policy, leading some senators, including Senator John Fetterman, to appear in more casual attire. However, the new resolution put forth by Senators Joe Manchin III and Mitt Romney now enforces the rule that men must wear a coat, tie, and slacks or other long pants. Schumer, expressing support for his favorite football team, adhered to the official dress code while making the announcement.
The decision to codify the dress code came after bipartisan criticism of Schumer’s initial decision to no longer police outfits for members. This move was made in accommodation of Senator Fetterman, known for wearing Carhartt sweatshirts and baggy shorts in the Capitol. Manchin and Romney circulated a draft of the proposed changes to resolve the clothing controversy, as senators aimed to avoid a government shutdown. Romney, who grew up in a prep school environment requiring formal dress, expressed satisfaction with the decision, stating that it may not be the most significant matter in Washington but is still a positive development.
Manchin, one of the earliest Democrats to voice opposition to the dress code change, proclaimed the joint effort involved in reaching a resolution. He described the process as a team effort, highlighting his collaboration with Fetterman to find a workable solution. The new dress code will require a two-thirds vote to make any changes, even more challenging than the 60 votes typically needed to break a filibuster. While Fetterman did not directly comment on the new rule, his office shared a meme featuring actor Kevin James shrugging and smirking. This move toward formalizing the dress code aims to establish written rules of decorum and conduct for senators, which have been assumed for the 234 years of the Senate’s existence.