WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. John Fetterman praised the pause on the Senate’s dress code for members, but some Republicans criticized the move, with one calling it an “embarrassment” to the American people.
“I feel it’s a little more freedom, which should be bipartisanship,” Fetterman, a Pennsylvania Democrat known for his relaxed attire, told Fox News. “I don’t know why the right side seems to be losing their minds over it.”
“I think it’s a good thing, but I’m going to use it sparingly,” he added while wearing a short-sleeve button down. “I hope other colleagues take advantage of it too.”
But Sen. Cynthia Lummis disagreed.
“This is a terribly sad development for the U.S. Senate,” the Wyoming Republican said. “I’ve never seen civility enhanced or a sense of decorum enhanced by dressing like a slob.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer directed the Sergeant-at-Arms to stop enforcing a dress code for its members, Fox News confirmed Sunday. The move follows the debate about whether Fetterman’s leisurely attire is appropriate for a member of the upper chamber.
“When you dress like that around here, which is the very sloppiest that a person would dress even if they’re going to a gym by themselves … the bar is lowered,” Lummis said about Fetterman’s attire. “The Senate is degraded. It’s debased. It should not be typical of how we dress when we go to the floor of the United States Senate.”
The change allows Fetterman to continue wearing his trademark hooded sweatshirts and gym shorts and no longer requires male senators to wear a jacket and tie on the Senate floor. Women senators don’t have to wear business attire, but all non-members entering the upper chamber still must adhere to the dress code.
But even before the directive, Fetterman worked around the dress code by voting from the doorway of the Democratic cloakroom or the side entrance, the Associated Press reported in May.
“This is an embarrassment,” Sen. Roger Marshall said. “The people of Kansas don’t want me showing up in a hoodie. Out of respect, we should have some sense of decorum here.”
The Kansas Republican told Fox News he will continue to follow the Senate dress code.
“The Senate is a very important institution that people look up to,” he said. “I’m here representing the people of Kansas, and to honor them, I feel like I should have a certain level of apparel.”
The Senate’s dress code appears to be more of an informal custom enforced by the Sergeant at Arms rather than an official policy, Axios reported.
“I’m actually going to go the other direction. I’m gonna ramp it up,” Lummis said. “I’m gonna dress more formally.”
To watch the full interviews with senators, click here.
Ramiro Vargas contributed to the accompanying video.