Just kidding, Senators can’t wear sweats to work

October 2, 2023

The United States is on the brink of a record-breaking government shutdown, thanks to lawmakers’ inability to see eye-to-eye on anything. But this week, senators found time to address an issue of high priority: Their own dress code.

According to a report by The Cut, just days after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) announced that senators could wear whatever they wanted on the floor, senators from both parties unanimously voted to walk that rule back and make business casual attire mandatory.

Until now, the Senate dress code wasn’t formalized, although custom held that everyone dress for a board meeting in order to step onto the floor. Historically, senators found a way around the unofficial uniform by voting from the edge of the floor in their sweats, keeping one foot in the cloakroom while they give a thumbs-up or -down from the periphery.

When Schumer initially relaxed the guidelines, he did not take suits off the table; indeed, he clarified that he would continue to wear one. But many of his colleagues still lost it: Susan Collins of (R-Maine) scoffed that she planned to “wear a bikini,” while admonishing the change, which she said “debases the institution.”

Shelley Moore Capito of (R-West Virginia) deemed the lax code “terrible,” while Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said he wasn’t “not a big fan.” Chuck Grassley of Iowa said simply, “It stinks.”

Right-wing troll Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) , who is notably not a senator, went after Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pennsylvania)—the poster child for wearing what he wants, which generally means shorts and a hoodie, and voting from the edges—on Twitter. She also called the change “disgraceful” and disrespectful of institutional etiquette, before she went back to voicing her support for January 6 rioters.

Somehow, the prospect of senators wearing whatever they wanted to work so inflamed the Senate that its members drafted a resolution. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, introduced a bill that forces men to wear slacks, a jacket, and tie on the floor. “Though we’ve never had an official dress code, the events over the past week have made us all feel as though formalizing one is the right path forward,” Schumer said. For his part, Fetterman has said that “if those jagoffs in the House stop trying to shut our government down, and fully support Ukraine,” then he is prepared to “save democracy by wearing a suit on the Senate floor.”

On that note, yes: The Senate and House remain at odds on their spending bills as the shutdown deadline looms. Now that the important issue of suits has been settled, maybe the next order of business could be keeping the government running so that millions of Americans who are already struggling can get their paychecks?

Research contact: @TheCut