(Headline USA) Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., defended the Senate’s newly relaxed dress code as “freeing,” but claimed he planned to take advantage of it only “sparingly,” despite having regularly been seen at work-related functions in violation of the old dress code, which required lawmakers to show up in a suit and tie.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced the rule change this week after requesting that the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms no longer enforce the Senate dress code.
“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor,” Schumer said of the decision.
During an interview with MSNBC, host Chris Hayes asked Fetterman—who has been wearing casual clothing, such as gym shorts and sweatshirts, within the U.S. Capitol building following his bout with depression—whether he supports the change.
“Of course, I’ve heard about it,” replied Fetterman, who was also known for campaigning in hoodies and gym shorts prior to his election to the Senate.
“I’ve heard that some people are upset about that, and the Right have been like losing their mind,” he continued. “You know, they’re just like, ‘Oh my god, you know, dogs and cats are living together,’ and you know, like I said, aren’t there more important things we should be talking about rather than if I dress like a slob?”
Fetterman was barred from entering the U.S. Senate chamber multiple times for being inappropriately dressed, and had to vote from the door of the Senate instead of from the floor. He argued the new rules were more “freeing.”
“I feel it’s a little more freedom, which should be bipartisanship,” he claimed. “I think it’s a good thing, but I’m going to use it sparingly. I hope other colleagues take advantage of it too.”
Republicans have blasted Schumer and the rest of the Democratic caucus for encouraging unprofessionalism.
“This is a terribly sad development for the U.S. Senate,” Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., said in a statement. “I’ve never seen civility enhanced or a sense of decorum enhanced by dressing like a slob.”
Lummis said Fetterman should have more respect for the constituents he represents—and for himself.
“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,” she argued.
“The Senate is degraded. It’s debased,” she added. “It should not be typical of how we dress when we go to the floor of the United States Senate.”