Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) plans to put forth a resolution to bring back the dress code in the Senate after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) decision to loosen the Senate’s dress code, in a move many believe came to accommodate Sen. John Fetterman’s (D-Pa.) typical casual attire, Manchin’s office confirmed to Forbes—which now has bipartisan support.
Manchin’s proposal, which was first reported on by the Hill, is a resolution that would return the dress code to what it was last week, requiring senators to wear business attire—coats and ties for the men and dresses and suits for the women—on the Senate floor.
Immediately after Schumer loosened the dress code earlier this week, a group of 46 Republican senators led by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) wrote a letter to the majority leader demanding he reverse course.
In addition to Manchin, other Democrats are displeased with the dress code change: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said “we need to have standards when it comes to what we’re wearing on the floor of the Senate” in a SiriusXM radio interview, while Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I don’t like it,” when asked about the change.
If all 49 Republicans—46 of them have already signed a letter showing their support—and at least two Democrats vote in favor of the resolution, it would pass.
A Manchin spokesperson told Forbes the senator intends to file the resolution, which she notes is bipartisan, “to ensure the Senate dress code remains consistent with previous expectations.”
Schumer said Monday that he’d informed the chamber’s sergeant-at-arms to no longer enforce a dress code on the Senate floor. The move is widely seen as an effort to cater to Fetterman, who has eschewed the typical coat and tie in favor of gym shorts and a sweatshirt since returning to the Senate after being treated for clinical depression earlier this year. This has forced Fetterman to vote from the doorway of the Senate floor to avoid getting in trouble for his more casual attire. Fetterman has denied he was behind the change. The dress code, unlike most rules of the senate, is unofficial and largely governed by norms. There have been a few tweaks in recent years, including a 2017 change that allowed women to wear sleeveless dresses. Additionally, in 2019, the House began allowing religious headgear.
The situation has produced a number of angry, mocking and jestful responses from Republicans. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joked that she planned “to wear a bikini” to work. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) called the rule change “disgraceful,” while Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said it constituted a “sad day in the Senate.” J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) posted a photo of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky from when he visited Congress on X, formerly known as Twitter, Thursday and wrote: “Look I know Schumer changed the dress code but letting someone in the senate chamber dressed like this really crosses the line.”
Speaking to the Hill, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called the bipartisan group of senators who want to bring back the dress code “the coalition of the rational.”