The US Senate took a unanimous bipartisan stand on Wednesday by approving a resolution to reinstate the dress code requirement for male senators to wear long pants. Democratic Senator John Fetterman’s choice of a gym shorts and hoodie uniform was believed to be the catalyst that led to this resolution. The Senate Resolution 376, also known as the SHow Our Respect to the Senate (SHORTS) Act, was introduced by Democrat Senator Joe Manchin and co-sponsored by Republican Senator Mitt Romney. The resolution passed without any vocal opposition from senators, highlighting the unusual level of agreement between parties in a time of partisan disagreements over spending bills.
Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate’s traditional dress code, which was enforced by the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms but not explicitly mentioned in any official rules or laws, would no longer be enforced for senators. This decision was met with immediate criticism, particularly from several dozen Republican senators and even fellow Democrat Senator Manchin, who believed that allowing casual clothing on the Senate floor was disrespectful to the institution and the American families they represent.
John Fetterman, who gained recognition for his hoodie-and-gym-shorts uniform while serving as lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, continued to wear his casual attire on the Senate floor after his arrival in Washington last year. Initially, Fetterman wore a suit, but following a period of hospitalization for clinical depression earlier this year, he took advantage of Schumer’s permission to return to his preferred casual clothing. This sparked discontent among some of his colleagues, who accused him of using his attire to portray a false working-class image. Critics pointed out his privileged background, including financial support from his parents well into his 40s, which allowed him to enter politics, starting with a mayoral position in Braddock, Pennsylvania that paid just $150 a year.
While the Senate focused on restoring sartorial order, the House of Representatives remained divided over the funding bills necessary to keep the government functioning. The Senate’s proposal to fund the government until November 17 faced rejection from Republicans in the lower chamber. Instead, they plan to pass their own series of spending bills on Thursday and Friday in order to avert a government shutdown.
The passage of the dress code resolution in the Senate showcases a rare moment of bipartisan agreement. Despite ongoing differences within and between parties over spending bills, senators were able to find common ground on the importance of maintaining a professional appearance on the Senate floor. The restoration of the dress code requirement serves as a symbolic gesture to uphold the dignity and professionalism associated with the Senate, ensuring that senators continue to represent their constituents with respect.