There may have been a lot of commotion elsewhere on Capitol Hill on Thursday morning, but a few senators made time for an annual tradition – showing up outside the Senate chamber sporting seersucker suits.
“You never forget the issues that are before you,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who led who led the push for senators to wear the striped suits for National Seersucker Day. “On the other hand, if you’re going to wear the suit anyway why not celebrate for a little bit? It’s an American tradition and so it’s kind of fun to celebrate American traditions."
It doesn’t hurt that the suits were first made in New Orleans.
“It’s fun for me because we get to celebrate something invented in New Orleans," the he threw in.
Cassidy said the lightweight blue-and-white-striped suits often worn in summer, particularly in the South, fit right in with the Washington, D.C., weather.
And while it’s not just a Southern thing, the South was well represented for the official picture outside the Senate Chamber.
Cassidy was joined by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Mississippi Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker. There was also Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota.\
But some regulars were disappointed with the turnout.
“I think it’s a good thing to do and it’s a shame that most members feel too dignified or too busy to participate,” said Wicker, former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. “This used to be more of a thing. We would have 10, 15 members of the Senate. But it’s not as fashionable to be bipartisan and have a little fun.”
It was a fellow Mississippian — former senator Trent Lott — who started the tradition at the Capitol.
Cassidy, who revived the tradition in 2014 when he served in the House, said he’s talked with Lott about the tradition.
“He sees it as a way that we could put aside partisan issues and kind of come together on something which is kind of fun," Cassidy said.
And since that doesn’t seem to happen much on Capitol Hill, the Republicans gave Klobuchar, the lone Democrat, a shoutout.
“It’s fair to say that Amy Klobuchar could carry the entire Democratic Party by herself," Cassidy said.
Wicker also acknowledged the presence of a Democrat, even if it was only one. “That goes for bipartisan now," he said.
But Klobuchar couldn’t stay long. She said she had to rush off to a Judiciary Committee hearing.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., co-chair of the Senate seersucker effort, was noticeably absent for the photo op.
She was busy at the Senate Intelligence Committee, where former FBI director James Comey was being grilled by members about his conversations with President Trump on the agency’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. She wore her seersucker suit though.
Wicker said the spotlight was definitely shining somewhere else.
“We were saying this would be a good day if you wanted to jump in the Tidal Basin with a tabletop dancer or take a swing at a reporter or do something outrageous because nothing is going to be covered except Comey today,” he said.