The Senate has officially implemented a dress code requiring members to wear business attire after a temporary relaxation of the decades-old policy caused controversy. Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, initially announced a loosening of the dress code, prompting some senators like Senator John Fetterman to forgo wearing ties. However, after facing bipartisan criticism, Schumer and Senators Joe Manchin III and Mitt Romney put forth a resolution to codify the suit-and-tie uniform. The new standards mandate that men wear a coat, tie, and pants or other long pants. Mr. Schumer expressed his support for the dress code while also displaying his favorite football team’s tie.
The decision to enforce a dress code came after a backlash over Schumer’s directive to no longer police outfits for members, a change made to accommodate Senator Fetterman’s preference for a more casual attire of shorts and hoodies. Manchin and Romney proposed the changes to end the controversy over clothing choice, which had distracted senators from more pressing issues, such as avoiding a government shutdown. Although not the most significant matter in Washington, Mr. Romney described the dress code as a positive development. Manchin, who previously criticized the dress code change, worked with Fetterman to find a solution that satisfied both sides.
Senator Manchin highlighted the lack of formal written rules regarding decorum and conduct in the Senate, seizing the opportunity to establish a dress code that he hoped would endure for centuries. The new dress code includes a provision requiring a two-thirds vote to make any alterations, a higher threshold than the 60-vote requirement for breaking a filibuster and passing major legislation. While Fetterman did not directly address the new rule, his office indirectly responded by sharing a viral meme featuring actor Kevin James shrugging and smirking.