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Senate rules change to lift dress code stirs up controversy over Fetterman's attire

Senate rules change to lift dress code stirs up controversy over Fetterman's attire
Senate rules change to lift dress code stirs up controversy over Fetterman's attire 02:54

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- U.S. Sen. John Fetterman can now wear his shorts and signature hoodie on the Senate floor without violating the Senate dress code. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer quietly made the change, telling the Sergeant of Arms to no longer enforce the long-time tradition requiring males to wear a coat and tie on the Senate floor.

Leave it to Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, well-known for greeting presidents in shorts and hoodies, to help guide the United States Senate into a new era of sartorial splendor, or maybe not.

In a statement to CBS News, Schumer said, "Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor," adding, "I will continue to wear a suit."

Neither Schumer nor Fetterman has yet confirmed that this is the reason for the rules change, but David Urban, who was the chief of staff to the late Sen. Arlen Specter, calls the change sad, saying Fetterman has worn a coat and tie on the senate floor and in committee hearings and should continue to do so.

"It is serious work that you're doing in the Senate. You're not gardening. You're running the nation," Urban said. 

Of course, dress standards have changed everywhere, from the office worker to the television reporter out in the field. Another former Senate staffer, Doug Saltzman, is not surprised.

"I don't know if it's been exactly directed at him. There's been changes over the years. I'm remembering instituting a rule in our office that you could come in casual on a Friday. Casual Fridays were a big thing," said Saltzman, Pittsburgh regional director for Specter. 

"I always thought it was a big step when the Duquesne Club in Pittsburgh, the Tony Business Club -- you could be casual on the first floor during the lunch hour."

But Keith Schmidt, state director for former Sen. Rick Santorum, says the U.S. Senate should maintain the highest standards.

"Two of the places where you still see a sense of decorum is in the court and at church, but if these gentlemen and ladies are actually approving judges, they should at least live by that standard," Schmidt said. 

KDKA-TV reached out to both Sens. Bob Casey and Fetterman on the policy change. There's been no official response yet, although, no surprise, Fetterman is responding on social media to some criticism from Republican politicians like Ron DeSantis and Marjorie Taylor Greene. No word yet on whether Fetterman will wear his hoodie on the Senate floor.  

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