The Senate no longer has a dress code,Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, announced this week. After the announcement, Sen. Susan Collins joked about what she would be wearing. “I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow to the Senate floor,” the Maine Republican jokingly told reporters, the Associated Press reports.
Collins went on to clarify she “obviously” is not going to wear a bikini, according to the Washington Examiner. “But of all the issues that we have to deal with right now, ranging from the possibility of the government shutting down to what we do about Ukraine, we’re talking about the Senate dress code? That’s extraordinary to me.”
While Schumer himself still plans to wear suits, other lawmakers may take him up on the offer to “choose what they wear on the Senate floor.” Sen. John Fetterman, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, has often worn causal clothes like sweatshirts and basketball shorts to work. Now, there is no rule prohibiting it.
But some took issue with the lack of dress code. Sen. Markwayne Mullin said on Fox News on Monday that part of him is excited for the change. “I hate wearing a tie and I’d rather be in blue jeans and a pair of boots and a white T-shirt,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “The fact is, you do dress for the job, and we need to be respectful of the position we hold and I totally disagree with what [Schumer] is doing here.”
When asked if he thinks the change was made because of Fetterman’s affinity for casual clothes, Mullin said “of course it is,” adding that Fetterman’s causal dress is “completely disrespectful for the people who put him in the position and the position that he holds.”
In an interview with Bloomberg on Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican,said he had a lot of strong opinions on Schumer’s announcement, but didn’t want to express them publicly. “Because I will say, behind closed doors, lots of people have a pretty energized opinion on this topic,” he said.
Even lawmakers who are not in the Senate weighed in. On X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Georgia RepublicanRep. Marjorie Taylor Greenecalled it a decision to “appease Fetterman,” saying it was “disgraceful.”
When asked about the critics, Fetterman told reporters: “They’re freaking out, I don’t understand it,” according to the Associated Press. “Like, aren’t there more important things we should be working on right now instead of, you know, that I might be dressing like a slob?”
Some lawmakers were already seen embracing the change. Republican Rep. Josh Hawley flew back from his home state of Missouri on Monday wearing jeans and boots, as he always does when he flies, and took that outfit to the Senate,according to the AP.
Sen. Chris Murphy also ditched the tie, telling reporters he had been reprimanded for doing so in the past. “They would tell us when we were doing it wrong,” the Connecticut Democrat said, according to the AP.
The sergeant at arms, who is elected by senators and acts as a protocol officer and law enforcement, enforced the dress code, which is not explicitly spelled out on paper. But sleeveless attire and open-toed shoes were allegedly not allowed. The change only applies to senators — staff members must still follow the code, which requires business attire, CBS News’ Nikole Killion reports.