Elections do, indeed, have consequences.
And one of the most interesting and perhaps controversial consequences of Nancy Pelosi and Democrats being elected to take control of the House of Representatives come January is their planned rules change to allow religious head covers on the floor of the House.
Head covers as in hijabs, Muslim head scarves covering an entire woman’s head except for her face. The new House will have the first two Muslim females — Ilhan Omar of Minnesota (see above), a Somali refugee, and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib.
For nearly two centuries, hats have been banned from the House floor. The previously updated rule reads:
During the session of the House, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not wear a hat or remain by the Clerk’s desk during the call of the roll or the counting of ballots.
A person on the floor of the House may not smoke or use a mobile electronic device that impairs decorum. The Sergeant-at-Arms is charged with the strict enforcement of this clause.
According to Pelosi, the ban on the ban, one of many planned in a bundle of Democrat changes, would for the first time since 1837 permit head coverings that are religious garb in the House itself. Pelosi says it’s designed to promote diversity and ensure freedom of religious expression on Capitol Hill.
Her other rules changes also involve creating an office of diversity and banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Religious Jews have managed without wearing kippahs on the House floor. No Sikh members yet to test such a ban on religious turbans. And it’s unclear if members of such faiths would even choose to don head apparel, some of which are large enough conceivably to conceal weapons.
Wearing head covers indoors was routine in Congress during the nation’s early days, copying the British tradition of hat-wearing in Parliament.
The movement to ban them and be different from the Revolutionary opponent took several efforts. But finally succeeded on Sept. 14, 1837. “Every member shall remain uncovered during the sessions of the House,” became the rule.
In recent months several U.S. allies in Europe with significant Muslim populations and concerns about terrorism have moved to ban some religious clothing in public, mainly veils and complete body coverings.