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Congressional Rule Change Allows Head Scarves, Religious Headwear on House Floor

2 minute read

The same day that the first two female Muslim congressional representatives in history took office, the House voted to permit religious headwear on the floor for the first time in 181 years.

The change, which was passed as part of a rules package, amended an 1837 rule that was originally intended to ban representatives from wearing hats on the House Floor. After a vote of 234 to 197 on Thursday, Congress members will now be allowed to wear head coverings, such as kippahs, hijabs and turbans.

Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American Muslim and refugee, became the first member of Congress to wear a religious headscarf on the floor. She celebrated the vote in a tweet.

“I thank my colleagues for welcoming me, and I look forward to the day we lift the Muslim ban separating families all over the U.S. from their loved ones,” Omar wrote.

The rule change was proposed in November by Omar, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts. With the change, the rule now “clarifies and maintains the existing prohibition on wearing hats in the Hall of the House, while making express that this prohibition does not include religious headwear.”

Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Muslim of Palestinian descent, was also sworn into Congress last week.

The 116th congress is considered to be the most diverse in American history. However, Christians still continue to be overrepresented, relative to the American population.

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