Senator Susan Collins is threatening to wear a bikini to work. Why? Because Chuck Schumer has done something that threatens the very fabric of the republic: relaxing the Senate’s dress code in a move that would allow lawmakers like Pennsylvania’s John Fetterman to embrace their affinity for casual clothes without violating protocol.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) officially changed the rules around what is considered appropriate attire for members of the upper chamber, instructing the Sergeant at Arms to stop enforcing guidelines requiring business attire on the floor. Informal attire previously constituted a dress code violation that would have prevented a senator from fully entering the chamber, forcing them to vote with one foot out the door.
Fetterman’s relaxed stylings have been a part of his image throughout his political career, and after taking a medical hiatus from Congress to seek treatment for clinical depression, he’s clearly decided to prioritize comfort over costume. Schumer’s move, which did not directly reference the Pennsylvania senator, has angered some of the more tight-laced Republicans both in and out of Congress — and led to criticism of Fetterman.
“I plan to wear a bikini tomorrow to the Senate floor and Chris Coons is gonna wear shorts because there’s no dress code anymore,” Sen. Collins (R-Maine) said Tuesday. All we can say is that it would be quite a sight.
Fetterman’s style is “the very sloppiest that a person would dress even if they’re going to a gym by themselves,” said Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), accusing Schumer’s decision of having “debased” the Senate.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) complained on X (formerly Twitter) that “the Senate no longer enforcing a dress code for Senators to appease Fetterman is disgraceful. Dress code is one of society’s standards that set etiquette and respect for our institutions. Stop lowering the bar!” Greene, a paragon of etiquette and social graces, has in the past demonstrated her respect for our institutions by loudly heckling President Biden during his State of the Union addresses, but it’s OK, she was wearing a fur coat at the time.
Florida Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis also attacked Fetterman, bashing him for wearing “sweatshirts, and hoodies and shorts” in a way that was “disrespectful” to the Senate. “We need to be lifting up our standards in this country, not dumbing down,” the former member of Congress added.
But Fetterman has never been one to ignore criticism. “I dress like he campaigns,” he tweeted, referencing DeSantis’ lackluster performance as a candidate in the 2024 primaries. The Pennsylvania senator took a similar dig at professional pollster Nate Silver, who complained about the amount of coverage the rule change was receiving. “I dress like you predict,” he wrote.
In another post, Fetterman clapped back at Fox News’ criticism of him by taking a dig at network coverage of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who was recently kicked out of a performance of the Beetlejuice musical after vaping, causing a disturbance, and getting a little too intimate with her date while in the audience.
“I figure if I take up vaping and grabbing the hog during a live musical, they’ll make me a folk hero,” Fetterman wrote on X.
Fetterman weighed in on the dress code change itself on Tuesday. “I feel it’s a little more freedom, which should be bipartisanship,” he told Fox News while sporting a short-sleeved button-down and shorts while in the halls of the Capitol. “I think it’s a good thing, but I’m going to use it sparingly,” he added. “I hope other colleagues take advantage of it too.”