After a time known as “The Fetterman Rule,” which was named after Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) and his fondness for informal wear, the United States Senate has adopted a formal dress code, putting an end to the era. The resolution was passed by the Senate with unanimous approval, which sped up the procedure and made it a requirement that senators sit on the Senate floor dressed appropriately for business.
Sens. Joe Manchin (Democrat of West Virginia) and Mitt Romney (Republican of Utah) were the ones who first proposed the resolution. On the Senate floor, male senators are required to adhere to the dress code established by the “SHORTS Act,” which mandates that they wear a “coat, tie, and slacks or other long pants.” The sergeant-at-arms of the Senate will enforce the dress code until two-thirds of the chamber votes for a change.
Following a period of relaxed enforcement, which was begun by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the decision was made to formally implement the dress code. This move resulted in both controversy and amusement. Despite the fact that there have been past instances of informal wear in the Senate and earlier easing of dress restrictions for women, Schumer’s attempt to modify the dress code led to the title “The Fetterman Rule,” in reference to Sen. Fetterman’s well-known penchant for casual attire.
A compromise was reached between Senator Fetterman, who was known for often wearing sweatshirts and gym shorts, and Senators Schumer and Manchin. When approaching the Senate chamber, he would wear a suit, but once he was inside, he could change into more comfortable clothing and continue voting. This compromise contributed to the new dress code being more formal.
With the passage of the dress code resolution, more conventional norms for clothing in the Senate have been reinstated, putting an end to the time of relaxed dress that was referred to as “The Fetterman Rule.”
After the conclusion of the dress code controversy, Senator Fetterman issued a statement in the form of a promotional poster portraying actor Kevin James wearing a plaid shirt and shrugging. The image was a reference to a famous internet meme based on James’ “King of Queens” series.