June 16, 2024

Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) presided over the Senate on Wednesday wearing a short-sleeve shirt, no tie, and shorts days following 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.

Reporters caught up with Fetterman after his session had ended. “The world didn’t spin off its axis. You know, I just did it … I think we will still go on,” he said, according to an NBC News reporter.

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.

“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit,” Schumer said in a statement to Axios, the first news outlet to report the change over the weekend.

Relaxing enforcement of the dress code, which appears to be more of a tradition than written policy, has sparked jokes as well as 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.” The Associated Press reported earlier this year how Fetterman, after getting treatment for depression, worked around the dress code rules for the Senate floor by popping in to vote from the doorway of the Democratic cloakroom or side entrance.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) told the media that he talked to Fetterman and said he thought the dress code decision was “wrong” and that he would “try to hold the decorum of the Senate.”

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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, according to The Hill.

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.”

Fetterman has taken to social media to advertise hoodies and other clothing that mocks his critics.

In a post to X from his Senate account, Fetterman said, “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.”