Newly empowered Democrats plan to let lawmakers wear religious head coverings on the House floor by creating an exception to a hat ban that has existed since 1837 — when there was reportedly very little debate before the enactment of a rule prohibiting what one member then described as the “really harmless but apparently indecorous practice” of indoor hat-wearing.
In recent years, the rule hasn’t been enforced to preclude members, staff or religious leaders from wearing head coverings on the floor, but the victory of Minnesota Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar, a Muslim who wears a headscarf, has put a spotlight on its continued existence.
Democrats say they will add an exemption for religious headwear under their new package of rules changes for the next Congress, which begins in January, so that the protection of religious expression is explicit. The language will also cover someone wearing a head covering due to illness and loss of hair.
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