U.S. Senate relaxes dress code as Republicans slam rule change

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., wears a hoodie while addressing President Joe Biden during an event in June. Effective Monday, Fetterman will be allowed to wear his signature shorts and hoodie on the U.S. Senate floor after Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. sent a directive to the sergeant-of-arms to relax the dress code. File photo by Laurence Kesterston/UPI

Sept. 19 (UPI) -- U.S. Senators will be allowed to wear whatever they want on the Senate floor, now that Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer has loosened the chamber's informal dress code.

"Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit," Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday in a statement.

Schumer's new dress code directive was sent to the Senate's sergeant-at-arms last week, and went into effect Monday.

While Senators will be allowed to wear whatever they want, staff and outside visitors will still be required to adhere to the stricter dress code of coats and ties for men, and business attire for women.

The new dress code will allow Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., who frequently wears shorts and hoodies instead of suits, to vote on the Senate floor. Fetterman, who returned to the Senate in April after receiving treatment for depression following a stroke, managed to skirt the dress code in recent weeks by voting from the edge of the chamber.

While Fetterman has not commented on the new dress code, Republicans took to social media Monday to blast the new standard.

"Police. Firefighters. Judges. Pilots. They all have uniforms. Ours is a suit and tie," Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"We shouldn't abandon it because it's more comfortable to wear sweats."

"Dress code is one of society's standards that set etiquette and respect for our institutions," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., wrote in a post on X. "Stop lowering the bar!"

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told reporters jokingly that she plans to "wear a bikini."

"I think there is a certain dignity that we should be maintaining in the Senate, and to do away with the dress code, to me, debases the institution," Collins added.

While the Senate's dress code was not written policy, other senators -- including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz -- have been seen on the Senate floor wearing gym clothes to cast their votes.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who wore travel clothes on Monday -- which included black pants, a quarter zip and sneakers -- said she hopes the dress code change will warm up the Senate chamber, which women frequently complain is much too cold.

"I'm not so hung up on things to think that every single day a man needs to wear a necktie," Murkowski said.

"If I had my way, we would have summer casual for men so we didn't have to have the air conditioning so crazy low and spend so much money keeping this place cold."