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Top Senate Democrat bucks Schumer over Senate dress code: 'We need to have standards'
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Top Senate Democrat bucks Schumer over Senate dress code: 'We need to have standards'

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D) criticized on Thursday the decision to relax the Senate's dress code.

What is the background?

On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) confirmed he directed the Senate's sergeant at arms not to enforce the Senate's unwritten dress code, which requires suits for men and business professional attire for women. The change allows senators to wear whatever they want on the Senate floor.

The controversial decision was widely seen to be an accommodation of Sen. John Fetterman. The Pennsylvania Democrat rarely wears a suit on Capitol Hill, but instead opts for gym shorts, T-shirts, and hooded sweatshirts.

What did Durbin say?

Durbin, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, told SiriusXM's POTUS channel that he is "concerned" about the change.

"The senator in question from Pennsylvania is a personal friend. But I think we need to have standards when it comes to what we're wearing on the floor of the Senate, and we're in the process of discussing that right now as to what those standards will be," Durbin said.

The Illinois Democrat, in fact, made it no mystery where he stands on the issue, and he said he plans to discuss it with Schumer.

"I can't understand exactly what [Schumer] was thinking at that point," Durbin said. "I want to give him the benefit of the doubt until I speak to him, but I think the Senate needs to act on this."

Fetterman wasted no time taking advantage of the new Senate dress code. On Wednesday, he presided over the chamber wearing casual clothes, mocking criticism of his wardrobe choices after his session was complete.

While Durbin's comments are significant because of the weight he pulls in the Democratic caucus, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has vowed to "hold decorum of the Senate" while lawmakers like Fetterman strut around in unprofessional garb.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, has promised to restore the dress code if Republicans win control of the Senate in 2024.

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