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Majority Leader Chuck Schumer loosens Senate's informal dress code

The Senate sergeant-at-arms and relevant congressional staff members have been notified about changes to the informal dress code, which will go into effect Monday.
Senator John Fetterman walks through the Senate Subway at the Capitol
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., walks through the Senate subway on May 18.Graeme Sloan / Sipa via AP file

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has quietly changed the Senate’s informal dress code to allow senators to wear whatever they want on the floor, a person with direct knowledge said.

A notice went out to the Senate sergeant-at-arms and relevant staff members late Friday, and the change will go into effect starting Monday, the source said.

The change would let Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., who is often seen wearing a hoodie and baseball shorts, wear his casual attire on the Senate floor whenever he wants. Fetterman, who was elected in last year’s midterm elections, wore a suit and a tie at his swearing-in in January.

However, he has worn his casual clothes after he returned to the Senate following treatment for clinical depression this year.

Schumer’s and Fetterman’s offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The news was first reported by Axios.

The Senate has operated with an informal dress code enforced by the sergeant-at-arms, which requires men and women to dress in business attire.

But because the standard is not a formal or written policy, senators at times have been seen on the Senate floor wearing gym clothes, golf attire, denim vests, shoes without socks and colorful wigs, among other unconventional attire.

Although senators will benefit from the change by being permitted to sport casual clothes in the Senate chamber, their staffs are still required to wear business clothes under the old dress code. People other than senators who walk on to the Senate floor will also need to wear business attire, which for men means a jacket and a tie.