On Wednesday, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) was escorted off the House floor for wearing a hoodie in honor of Trayvon Martin, the teenager killed in Florida last month. Although the decision by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), who was currently presiding over the session, was supposedly an enforcement of a House rule prohibiting the wearing of hats, The New Civil Rights Movement points out that Rush was not the first House member to make a political statement with head gear while in the halls of Congress.
Last year, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) wore a propellor hat with President Obama’s campaign logo attached to it alongside the words “Obama’s energy plan” to a committee hearing. The hat was meant to mock the plan, which Young had some concerns about. Although Young was in a committee hearing at the time and Rush was on the House floor, the two incidents have some similarities, while the outcomes were very different.
Rush was interrupted during his speech and eventually escorted off the House floor. Harper later reminded representatives that Clause 5 of Rule 17 of House rules "prohibits the wearing of hats in the chamber when the House is in session." Young's hat, on the other hand, elicited laughter and joking from his colleagues.
The official House dress code clearly indicates that members may not wear hats or overcoats on the House floor, while the House is in session. It does not, however, specifically address decorum for committee meetings or hearings.