Democrats Want To Change 181-Year-Old 'No Hat' Rule In Congress To Allow Hijabs

The party wants House of Representatives members to be allowed to wear religious head coverings.

The Democrats took control of the US House of Representatives in last week's midterm elections and are already planning to shake things up.

One immediate push is changing a bygone rule that no hats are to be worn in Congress, a motion that passed in September 1837.

The U.S. Capitol (Photo by Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images)

The strict ban is being challenged almost two centuries later by party stalwarts Nancy Pelosi and Jim McGovern, plus member-elect Ilhan Omar.

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The proposed change is part of a larger reform package to allow incoming senators like Omar, a Muslim woman, to freely don religious headgear.

The Somali-born Minnesotan, who wears a hijab (veil), took to Twitter on Saturday and shared her desire to overturn the regulation.

“No one puts a scarf on my head but me. It’s my choice—one protected by the first amendment. And this is not the last ban I’m going to work to lift,” she wrote.

Other religious headgear, including Jewish kippahs, would also be allowed on the House floor, according to reports.

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The motion follows last year's revised uniform regulations for US service men and women, which saw turbans, hijabs and beards for religious purposes allowed. Hair braids, cornrows, twists and locks were also included.

“Our goal is to balance soldier readiness and safety with the accommodation of our soldiers’ faith practices," Lieutenant Colonel Randy Taylor, the US Army’s director of public affairs and assistant secretary, said in a statement.

Early rulings for Australia's parliament stated members could wear hats in the Chamber, but not while entering, leaving or speaking. Notes tabled in 1988 for a revision of that law considered it was "obviously a relic of the time when the wearing of hats was common" and it should now "be left to practice."

Featured image: Getty.

Contact the author: samelia@networkten.com.au.