Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) presided over the Senate on Wednesday wearing a short-sleeved shirt, no tie, and shorts days after the controversial decision to stop enforcement of the chamber’s dress code.
The senator from Pennsylvania took his turn sitting as the presiding officer while some of his GOP colleagues, including Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Rand Paul (R-KY), and John Cornyn (R-TX), delivered remarks on the Senate floor.
“The world didn’t spin off its axis. You know, I just did it … I think we will still go on,” Fetterman later told reporters.
In a change first revealed over the weekend that is tailored only to affect senators and not staff members, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) directed the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms to stop enforcement of the informal rules dictating that members wear business attire on the Senate floor.
Relaxing enforcement of the unwritten dress code has sparked blowback from members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle. Much of the uproar has been directed at Fetterman, a freshman senator who is well known for often wearing hoodies and gym shorts, leading to the change being dubbed “The Fetterman Rule.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told the media he thought the dress code decision was “wrong” and that he would “try to hold the decorum of the Senate.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was asked if he would restore the old rules if Republicans retake the upper chamber.
“I think I’m pretty safe in saying most if not all Republican senators think we ought to dress up to go to work. So I can’t imagine that we’re going to be wearing jeans on the Senate floor anytime soon,” McConnell said.
Forty-six Republican senators, led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), signed a letter to Schumer demanding that he reverse the “misguided” rules change.
“The world watches us on that floor and we must protect the sanctity of that place at all costs,” the letter said, adding, “Allowing casual clothing on the Senate floor disrespects the institution we serve and the American families we represent.”