-- It’s time to Make Congress Trendy Again.
The media bashed House Speaker Paul Ryan over the Independence Day recess for enforcing a stringent dress code in the House chamber and speaker’s lobby.
The criticism was baseless, however, because the rules on decorum were nothing new and enforced for decades. Former Speaker John Boehner often admonished the House from the rostrum for sloppy attire, complaining about sleeveless dresses, blue jeans and even Rep. Frederica Wilson’s cowboy hats.
The current policy prohibits sleeveless dresses and open-toed shoes for women, and mandates men wear a sport coat and necktie.
This reporter was turned away this past winter attempting to wear a top coat in the lobby during the frigid months.
But when a reporter recently complained that she was refused access to the lobby for wearing a dress deemed inappropriate by chamber security, the blogosphere blew up into a frenzy.
Ryan, who has been speaker for less than two years, noticed, announcing today he has asked for an “updated” and “modernized” dress code.
“I'll be honest, this was not something that was covered in my new speakership orientation ceremony,” Ryan said. “The sergeant at arms was simply enforcing the same interpretation of the rules as under my predecessors. This is nothing new and certainly not something that I devised.
“That doesn't mean that enforcement couldn't stand to be a bit modernized,” Ryan admitted, revealing his office will work with the sergeant at arms “to ensure the enforcement of appropriate business attire is updated.”
How sexy will it get?
“Decorum is important, especially for this institution, and a dress code in the chamber, in the [speaker's] lobby, makes sense,” Ryan said. “But we also don't need to bar otherwise accepted contemporary business attire. So look for a change on that soon.”