Schumer’s Senate Dress Code Sop to Fetterman Earns Bipartisan Backlash

The decision by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to relax the Senate’s dress code to accommodate the slovenly attire of Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) has earned a backlash from both sides of the aisle.


The decision by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to relax the Senate’s dress code to accommodate the slovenly attire of Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) has earned a backlash from both sides of the aisle.

  • Schumer announced on Monday that the informal dress code would no longer be enforced on the Senate floor for Senators only (not staff). The rules change can be entirely attributed to Fetterman, who refuses to dress professionally and insists on wearing a hoodie and shorts to work.
  • Fetterman’s homeless-chic style is a key piece of his political brand and is meant to show that he identifies with the working class despite his privileged upbringing. Fetterman was financially supported by his wealthy parents throughout adulthood until becoming Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania in 2019.
  • His parents paid him a yearly stipend, including a $54,000 salary in 2015. The $70,000 loft where he and his wife Gisele Barreto Fetterman are raising their children was purchased from his sister for $1.
  • Republicans quickly expressed their displeasure with the rule change. ““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,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) blasted Schumer’s “terrible choice.” He continued, “Do you think judges should wear shorts and T-shirts when they’re sitting on the stand? No, because we want to show respect for the institution of the judiciary. Likewise, this is the government of the United States of America.”
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) joked – or threatened – to “wear a bikini” on the Senate floor, while Sen. Ted Cruz made sure to clarify that he would not be sporting a Speedo in the Senate chamber.
  • Some Senate Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), condemned Schumer’s decision to bend over backwards for the new senator from Pennsylvania.
  • Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), the No. 2 Senate Democrat, said in an interview, “The senator in question from Pennsylvania is a personal friend, but I think we need to have standards when it comes to what we’re wearing on the floor of the Senate, and we’re in the process of discussing that right now as to what those standards will be… I think the Senate needs to act on this.”
  • The Senate dress code change does not apply to any of the staff, or visitors who step on the floor of the Senate – only the 100 members of one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. Interns, who are barely paid enough money to afford living in DC, must wear a suit. For senators, the rules need not apply.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • Axios reported Durbin and Manchin are not alone among Senate Democrats in opposing a loosening of standards. “I don’t like it,” Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) told CNN. With 46 Senate Republicans opposing the change in a letter to Schumer – and Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL) also expressing opposition, a majority of Senators now stand opposed to Schumer’s unilateral move.
  • The New York Times traced the history of the Senate’s dress code, which has “been largely governed by norms, rather than by written rules.” Women had to serve in Congress for nearly 100 years before the rules were change in 2019 to allow sleeveless dresses. Fetterman has been in the Senate for 9 months before he got Schumer to blow up the standards to cater to his preferences.
  • NPR observed that women were not even allowed to wear pants on the Senate floor until 1993, the year the first women’s restroom was built on the Senate side – some 70 years after the first female senator was appointed. It’s hard not to notice the double standards involved here – women had to wait decades for basic rule changes, while the institution is expected to cave to Fetterman’s lack of professionalism.



  • Fox News reported Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) came out with resolution to restore the Senate’s dress code. The West Virginia Democrat “intends to file a bipartisan resolution to ensure the Senate dress code remains consistent with previous expectations,” a spokesperson told Fox News.
  • The New York Post covered in further detail remarks from Durbin, the senior Illinois Democrat and Schumer’s deputy, questioning his decision-making. ““I can’t understand exactly what he was thinking at that point,” Durbin said when asked about Schumer’s rationale. “I want to give him the benefit of the doubt until I speak to him but I think the Senate needs to act on this.”
  • National Review’s Rich Lowry wrote that Fetterman has made “the US Senate safe for disgraceful slobs.” If the laxed standards remain, Lowry argues, then Fetterman will have “won this battle, but at the price of beclowning himself and his institution — not that he cares.”


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© Dominic Moore, 2023

2 comments On Schumer’s Senate Dress Code Sop to Fetterman Earns Bipartisan Backlash

  • So the Senators can dress like slobs but their staff still needs to dress professionally? Another case of “rules for thee but not for me” Don’t they see the hypocrisy in this?

  • These supposed smart members of Congress must know of the study that shows that manner of dress does play apart in how a person conducts themself in social and casual situations. I and many of my friends and family who have discussed this topic feel this is just another step down the road of belittling and disrespectful acts to the office and the country. If I have to wear a uniform to work as window washer what kind of sacrifice will he be making to dress for a couple of hours setting on his as? Lazy in appearance, lazy in thought, lazy in accomplishment.

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