In a somewhat entertaining tangential development, though, folks have come forward on Twitter to highlight the real hero of the story: a young reporter on assignment who, when barred from entering the Speaker's Lobby because of her sleeveless dress, tore pages out of her notebook and fashioned them into shoulder coverings, according to onlookers. She was still turned away. "They are also not enforced on the Senate side of the Capitol".
As far as the House rules, Billy House noted that the enforcement of a ban on sleeveless dresses, tennis shoes and open-toed shoes has been subject to the discretion of chamber security. In early May, when the House first voted to pass the GOP health care bill, Haley Byrd, a congressional reporter for the Independent Journal Reviewtold CBS News she was kicked out of the Speaker's lobby due to her sleeveless dress. The notion of a dress code for reporters or anyone else in the Speaker's lobby, he said, stems from the idea of "proper decorum", which is a phrase typically included in the rules package at the start of each Congress, but it's not elaborated on.
The crime? Her dress was sleeveless.
CBS reported that the "appropriate business attire" Ryan mentions means nothing short of suit jackets and ties for men, and no sleeveless tops, sleeveless dresses, open-toed shoes or sneakers for women.
Reporters weathering sweltering temperatures and high humidity in Washington D.C. have found themselves stuck outside due to nebulous and loosely-defined rules about "proper decorum" in the House chamber and Speaker's lobby. According to CBS, Byrd got kicked out of the speaker's lobby for her ensemble, even though she'd just been passing through. He said, "Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House however brief their appearance on the floor may be".
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The House dress code is not new, but it is not specific either.
Men have been offered what one former reporter, Jacob Fischler, has dubbed "ties of shame", exhibited below, if they left theirs at home.
On the other hand, a woman in a formal dress is being asked to cover up her arms with a cardigan.
It's clear the issue of attire in the House is important to Speaker/muscle shirt wearer Paul Ryan. The only written rule states that women should wear "appropriate attire", which is more vague than your standard high school dress code.