In a rare break with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has expressed concern about the recent decision to abolish the chamber’s dress code for members. The change was made to accommodate Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), who prefers to dress in gym shorts and hoodies.
Durbin told reporters on Thursday that he is “concerned” about the message that the dress code change sends. He said that he believes the Senate should maintain a “certain standard of decorum” and that dressing casually “disrespects the institution.”
“I can’t understand exactly what he was thinking at that point,” Durbin said of Schumer. “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.”
Durbin reportedly made the comments during an interview with “The Briefing with Steve Scully” on SiriusXM’s POTUS channel, which is set to air on Friday.
Schumer said senators “are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor.” The majority leader also said he will continue to wear a suit.
Durbin’s comments come after a group of 46 Republican senators signed a letter to Schumer criticizing the decision to relax the dress code. The letter said that the change “disrespects the sanctity of that place at all costs” and “allow[s] casual clothing on the Senate floor [to] disrespect the institution we serve and the American families we represent.”
Durbin reportedly said 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.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who led a letter signed by dozens of GOP colleagues urging Schumer to reverse the “misguided” rules change, complimented Durbin for speaking out.
“Bipartisan agreement is a wonderful thing. Glad to see [Durbin] agree that the Senate should not abandon its standards,” Scott said in a post to X.
Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) arrives for the Senate's closed-door meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in a short-sleeve shirt and shorts. pic.twitter.com/2ZWIdGBWYn
— The Recount (@therecount) September 21, 2023