The U.S. Senate is officially dropping its dress code, allowing its members to wear whatever they would like—whether sweatshirts, shorts, or sneakers—for the benefit of Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA).

The decision was made by Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) when he told the Sergeant at Arms, the Senate’s chief law enforcement and protocol officer, not to enforce it.

“Senators are able to choose what they wear on the Senate floor. I will continue to wear a suit,” Schumer told CBS News. The change only applies to senators: other staff members are still required to follow the code and wear business attire.

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Fetterman, who was elected in the 2022 midterms, has already been seen wearing a hoodie and basketball shorts around Congress and at press briefings with President Joe Biden.

While initially opting for a suit and tie, Fetterman switched to sweats when he returned from checking himself into a medical center for depression.

While seemingly never “formal” in the sense of being a written law, it has long been expected of Senators that they dress in professional business attire (for men meaning coat and tie) to match the dignity of the office. It has also been strictly enforced. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was a strong opponent of informal or relaxed wear on the floors of congress, and chastised lawmakers for ignoring the rules.

Many lawmakers and staffers, mainly Republicans, were appalled at the decision and described it as further degradation of the U.S. government.

“The Senate will no longer enforce its dress code, all because John Fetterman is a revolting slob,” former Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Treasury Monica Crowley said. “This is a material debasement of a storied institution and an absolute reflection of America’s steep decline.”

Fetterman is not the first U.S. politician to flout decorum. Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, was known for purposely dressing down to resist what he felt were lingering “monarchical customs” among government officials of the young Republic. But dressing down in the 18th century essentially meant dressing professionally today. Our country is much older now, and it would be hard to argue with sincerity that Fetterman’s fashion choices reflect a principled Enlightenment-era civic republicanism more than a simple laziness and lack of respect for order and custom.

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