Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is assembling a coalition in the Senate to overturn the recent decision by fellow Democrat and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to halt enforcement of the chamber's dress code. What has been dubbed "The Fetterman Rule," after Senator John Fetterman (D-PA), has raised eyebrows and drawn criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.
Next week, Sen. Manchin plans to introduce a bipartisan resolution to restore the dress code to its previous standards, according to a statement from his spokesperson. This comes after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer directed the Senate's sergeant-at-arms to stop enforcing the informal rules that required members to wear business attire on the Senate floor.
“I’m concerned about it. The senator in question from Pennsylvania is a personal friend, but I think we need to have standards,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) – the second-highest ranking Democrat – said in an interview Friday.
The pushback against the relaxed dress code has gained momentum, with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) labeling those opposing the new rules as the "coalition of the rational." Already, 46 Republican senators, led by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), have signed a letter demanding that Schumer reverse his dubious decision.
The decision to relax the dress code has sparked jokes and raised concerns, not just among senators from both sides of the aisle, but even in far-left media. The Washington Post editorial board has also criticized the change, pointing out that while it affects senators, it does not extend to staff members.
Senator Fetterman, who has become synonymous with the new dress code rules, is known for his preference for hoodies and gym shorts. His casual attire has prompted some to nickname the decision "The Fetterman Rule." Despite criticism, Fetterman has shown no signs of changing his wardrobe choices, even presiding over the Senate in a short-sleeve shirt and no tie.
Fetterman even derisively tried to use opposition to his sloppy fashion sense to extort votes from House Republicans:
"If those jagoffs in the House stop trying to shut our government down, and fully support Ukraine, then I will save democracy by wearing a suit on the Senate floor next week.”
Senator Manchin, however, disagrees with the decision and has made it clear that he aims to preserve the decorum of the Senate. He spoke with Senator Fetterman about the dress code issue, emphasizing his belief that the decision was "wrong." Fetterman acknowledged Manchin's concerns, stating, "Absolutely. I get it."
Even Senator Dick Durbin, the majority whip and the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, expressed his unease with the dress code change, arguing that standards should be maintained when it comes to attire on the Senate floor.
Critics have also pointed out that a previous relaxation of the dress code in 2019 allowed women to wear sleeveless dresses, which led to Senator Kyrsten Sinema making bold fashion choices, such as colorful attire and a denim vest while presiding over the Senate.
While Senator Fetterman continues to mock his critics on social media and advertise hoodies and other clothing items, the efforts to reverse the dress code change are gaining traction. With Senator Manchin leading the charge, it remains to be seen how the Senate will ultimately decide on what members should wear on the Senate floor.
This is a developing story.