For 234 years Senators have dressed like business men and women with the men wearing business suits, suits, and ties, and women wearing business-appropriate clothing. Then John Fetterman was elected by the state of Pennsylvania, and he began showing up for work wearing a hoody sweatshirt and shorts.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) decided that the precedented dress rule was not necessary. He announced on September 17 that U.S. senators could “wear whatever they want on the Senate floor,” according to news reports.
The public as well as other senators did not like the unwritten rule to be thrown aside. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) co-authored a resolution to reinstate the dress code. According to Eva Terry at the Deseret News, Romney made the following statement prior to the Senate unanimously passing “a bipartisan resolution to reinstate the requirement that business attire be worn on the Senate floor.
The United States Capitol is more than just a place of work – it serves as a symbol of freedom and democracy to the world….
Hard work was done, and sacrifices made, to ensure that our legislative branch of government wasn’t just housed in some tent. As senators, we should demonstrate a high level of reverence for the institution in which we serve – and our attire is one of the most basic expressions of that respect. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to call for a return to a level of dress becoming of the Senate.
Terry wrote that Romney “related the architecture of the U.S. Capitol building to the respect the builders of America had for its ideals and values.” She quoted Romney as saying, “I think it’s in keeping with that spirit that we say we want those who serve inside this room, in this hall, to show a level of dignity and respect which is consistent with the sacrifice they made and with the beauty of the surroundings.”
Terry wrote that Manchin also “emphasized the importance of respecting the American Senate.” She quoted him as saying, “For 234 years, every senator that has had the honor of serving in this distinguished body has assumed there were some basic written rules of decorum, conduct and civility, one of which was a dress code.”
Manchin continued, “Just over a week ago, we all learned that there were not – in fact – any written rules about what Senators could and could not wear on the floor of the Senate. So Senator Romney and I got together and we thought maybe it’s time that we finally codify something that was the precedented rule for 234 years.”
The fact that the Senators wore business dress for 234 years without any written rule says a lot for those men who set the precedence as well as those men and women who have continued it. Every single senator respected the Senate chambers enough to dress appropriately to do the business of the people – except one Democrat senator named John Fetterman. Shame on him, and shame on Schumer who tried to make sloppiness the rule.