Schumer Updates Senate Rule, Allows Fetterman to Continue Dressing Like a Slob


Call it the “Fetterman Rule.”

As those of you with memories longer than that of President Joe Biden may recall, the men and women of the U.S. Senate were usually required to dress and comport themselves sartorially in a certain fashion.

While there was no formal dress code for the upper chamber (there is one for the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, and it’s also strictly enforced), it was still adhered to — until a certain gentleman with a penchant for hoodies and gym shorts got elected to a six-year term by Pennsylvanians last November.

So, in order to do away with any ugliness, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has decided to nix the informal dress code, according to Axios, saying the Senate’s sergeant at arms no longer will enforce the unwritten rules of attire.

“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit,” Schumer told the outlet.

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“The new directive will allow Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), who tends to favor gym shorts and hoodies over the business attire traditionally required in the chamber, to linger on the Senate floor before and after votes,” Axios reported.

“Fetterman, who was elected last year, initially followed Senate tradition and wore suits. But since returning to the Senate after being treated for clinical depression earlier this year, he frequently has sported the casual look he was known for as Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor.”

For instance, here he was at a news conference in regard to the debt ceiling negotiations earlier this year:

It’s a good look.

While one understands that part of Fetterman’s appeal (to those who indeed find an appeal in the first place, which does not include the person writing these words) is that he puts himself forward as a blue-collar everyman from deep in coal country, I venture scores of other lawmakers have managed to pull off the same vibe and at least make a stop at Men’s Wearhouse before hitting the Capitol.

You may be wondering why he was able to dress like this and still perform his duties if there were a dress code in effect, informal though it may be. Well, according to a May report from The Associated Press, Fetterman had discovered a “workaround.”

“He votes from the doorway of the Democratic cloakroom or the side entrance, making sure his ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ is recorded before ducking back out,” the AP reported.

“In between votes this past week, Fetterman’s hoodie stayed on for a news conference with four Democratic colleagues in suits, the 6-foot-8 Fetterman towering over his colleagues.

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“The senator’s staff had originally asked him to always wear suits, which he famously hates. But after a check with the Senate parliamentarian upon his return, it became clear that he could continue wearing the casual clothes that were often his uniform back at home in Pennsylvania, as long as he didn’t walk on to the Senate floor.”

Now, for better or worse, Schumer won’t even force Fetterman to pretend.

If the people of Pennsylvania feel they are best represented in the Senate by someone who campaigns and does his state job dressed like a roadie for an Eminem tour, far be it from me to complain; I’m not registered to vote there, after all, and if they bought this failson’s burly Rust Belt beer-and-a-shot persona, that’s their problem.

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That said, the Senate does not generally entertain the kind of studied grubbiness that has become Fetterman’s trademark. If he had an R after his name, you could bet every cent in your retirement account that Schumer would ensure he was in a suit and tie.

For that matter, you’d probably be better off betting that Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also wouldn’t consider changing the rules because one of his own felt he could better express who he really was by dressing like a total slob.

(Axios notes that when GOP Rep. John Boehner was the speaker of the House, he was “a strict enforcer” of the dress code: “Members should wear appropriate attire during all sittings of the House, however brief their appearances on the floor may be. You know who you are,” Boehner warned lawmakers in 2015.)

Thus, this move is just as emblematic of Schumer as it is of Fetterman: The majority leader is a man who considers rules and informal traditions sacrosanct — until they become an impediment to him or his party. Then, what rule? You don’t need a suit to conduct business in the Capitol.

You can even appear like Fetterman did here last week, conducting an interview with the face of fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey taped to his shirt for no good reason:

Now, one guesses, he can wear the shirt with the taped face in the Senate chamber. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that the men and women of the U.S. Senate are keeping with the times, thoroughly insane though these times might be.

And, hey, why not go further?

“Generous interpretations of the Senate floor dress code can only stretch so far before you have to square up and make formal changes,” Eric Ueland, a former longtime Senate staffer, told Axios. “Hopefully this round will also protect the floor privileges of senators and staffers who don’t want to wear socks.”

Heck, why even bother with socks? Show up in PJs. Bring your favorite stuffed animal. Pretend like it’s library story time. Tonight’s story: “Bill S. 112: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to strengthen benefits for children of Vietnam veterans born with spina bifida, and for other purposes.”

And since the Democrats are in charge, maybe they can even bring in a drag queen to read it.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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