Suits and ties are out at the U.S. Senate. Sweatshirts and sweatpants are in.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has quietly instructed the Sergeant at Arms to stop enforcing the Upper Chamber’s informal dress code policy that required men and women to wear business attire while on the floor of the Senate. The move is believed to be an accommodation for Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), who almost exclusively mills about the Capitol in shorts and hoodies these days.
Dressed for Success?
On Sunday, Axios reported that Sen. Schumer was ending the informal policy that required men to wear a coat and tie and women to wear business attire while on the Senate floor. Sen. Schumer told Axios in a statement that he will continue to don a suit, but his colleagues can wear whatever they wish. The staff of sitting senators and other personnel, however, will still be forced to comply with the previous style guide.
Under the old rules, senators could circumvent the dress code by voting from the edge of the Senate floor with one foot still in the cloakroom. They would flash a thumbs up or down to indicate their vote and then step back out of the chamber without violating protocol. Fetterman and others have taken advantage of the loophole over the years.
The updated policy will most obviously benefit Fetterman. The first-term senator wore a suit to his swearing in ceremony in January 2023. After undergoing treatment for depression earlier this year, he has most often been photographed at the Capitol in his trademark shorts and baggy sweatshirts. He will now be able to remain present on the Senate floor before and after votes.
Axios and other news outlets attempted to find the official Senate dress code policy. None appears to exist, and the current standards are believed to be more of an informal custom enforced by the Sergeant at Arms. Over the years, changes have been made. Most recently, the standards for women were amended to allow bare arms and sleeveless attire.
In Megyn’s view, this latest update is a bridge too far. She recalled dinners with her dad, who was a professor, growing up in which she would implore him to “speak English” and stop using “fancy words.” He refused. “He would always say, ‘Megyn, I will not lower my vocabulary to meet yours. You must raise yours to mine,’” she shared. “We have lowered the standard of the Senate to meet that of John Fetterman… Instead of stopping the shorts and the hoodie, we’ve embraced it.”
Hernandez believes it is reflective of a larger shift in society. “A lot of people might read this story and be like, why is it important,” she said. “It is important because we are the United States of America. We are supposed to be a world superpower… We should have just some type of pride in our country, some type of pride in our leaders, in our politicians.”
Instead, politicos will be able to rock athleisure wear and who knows what else while on the clock. “They’re all going to look like schleps when they’re in there doing the people’s business,” Megyn concluded. “It’s disgraceful.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Hernandez and Witt by tuning in to episode 629 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.