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Senate tosses 234 years of decorum for hoodie-wearing Fetterman

By CM Chaney · September 18, 2023

In brief…

  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer quietly changed the Senate dress code rules to allow relaxed and casual attire.
  • The rule change is seen as an effort to appeal to Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, who often wears hoodies and shorts in the Senate building.
  • The previous rules required business attire, but Democrats had pushed for reforms in the past.
  • The new rules allow senators to vote in casual clothes when they arrive straight from travel or from a visit to the Senate gym.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer relaxed the Senate dress code rules to allow hoodies and shorts, as worn by Sen. John Fetterman (above).  Governor Tom Wolf/Wikimedia

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has quietly changed the dress code for his half of Congress, allowing for more casual attire on the Senate floor. The move is seen as an effort to appeal to Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, a stroke victim known for wearing hooded sweatshirts and shorts.

Fetterman often turns heads on Capitol Hill with his uber-casual outfits, though other politicians such as Ted Cruz have also been spotted in comfy clothes at times. The previous rules required senators to dress in full business attire - meaning suits and ties for men.

Commenting on the rule change, Schumer said, “Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit.”

The relaxed dress code apparently helps Fetterman, and other lawmakers who sometimes have difficulty casting votes on the floor of the Senate when the return from travel or a workout at the gym and don’t have time to put on a suit. Joe Calvello, a spokesperson for Fetterman, humorously said of the change, “Great day for John Fetterman’s body double. We don’t have to buy them suits anymore.”

Democrats have pushed for dress code reforms before. Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar led efforts to allow more casual women’s attire, while Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema often wears sleeveless dresses.

The rules previously required politicians to vote from the Senate cloakroom edges when not wearing a proper business suit. Fetterman’s style has continued inspiring changes to traditions on Capitol Hill. Other members of the world’s most elite club groused over the end of 234 years of tradition and decorum.