GOP lawmaker ribs Speaker's Lobby dress code for women

Story highlights

  • The Speaker's Lobby is a room bordering the front of the House chamber
  • The dress code requires women to wear dresses and blouses with sleeves

Washington (CNN)It's become a heavily-debated topic that has now made it to the House floor.

On Wednesday, GOP Rep. Martha McSally made a joking reference to the strict dress code in the Speaker's Lobby while speaking on the House floor about first responders in her state.
Without skipping a beat, she finished her speech and, while continuing reading from a paper on the podium, commented on her own attire on the House floor. It appeared to be a prepared statement.
    "Before I yield back, I want to point out I'm standing here in my professional attire, which happens to be a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes," McSally said on the House floor. "With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back."
    The Speaker's Lobby is a room bordering the front of the House chamber and is a location where reporters grab House lawmakers for quick interviews. The dress code requires women -- reporters and lawmakers -- to wear dresses and blouses with sleeves if they want to enter. The rule also requires men to wear to wear jackets and ties.
    A debate sparked last week about whether the dress code should change, with critics arguing it's an antiquated rule that should made more lenient.
    A CBS News report published last week told the story of a woman who was "forced to improvise" because she was wearing a sleeveless dress at the Capitol. The report said "she ripped out pages from her notebook and stuffed them into her dress's shoulder openings to create sleeves" -- but it didn't work. She was turned away.
    A spokesperson for Ryan's office told CBS News that the dress code has existed not only under Ryan but other House Speakers, including Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
    Ryan's spokesperson AshLee Strong told CNN: "The Speaker recently reminded all members of the need to maintain decorum in the House."
    Since the issue made headlines, several outlets published opinions last week about why or why not the dress code should change.
    McSally's office did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.