(Bloomberg) — A fire alarm went off in a Capitol Hill building Saturday, adding to the tension as US lawmakers worked to hash out a last-minute deal to avoid a government shutdown.
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Representative Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat from New York, is accused of pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building, where some members of Congress have their offices. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he would seek an ethics investigation into the incident, which Bowman said was a “mistake.”
“This should not go without punishment,” McCarthy told reporters.
Bowman told reporters he had been trying to open a door. “It was a mistake. That’s all it was,” he said. “McCarthy is trying to weaponize an innocent mistake.”
“I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote,” Bowman said in a statement late Saturday. “It was the exact opposite — I was trying urgently to get to a vote, which I ultimately did and joined my colleagues in a bipartisan effort to keep our government open.”
The US Capitol Police said it is investigating the incident, which it said took place at 12:05 p.m. on the second floor and prompted an evacuation order. Pulling a fire alarm is a misdemeanor in some jurisdictions. Bowman said that after the vote, he met with the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police to explain what happened.
The US Committee on House Administration said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it would also investigate why the fire alarm was pulled. The comment, attributed to Chairman Bryan Steil, a Republican representative from Wisconsin, was confirmed by the committee.
The incident was caught on camera, according to Politico. The alarm added to the already tense scene on Capitol Hill, with McCarthy working to sidestep hardliners in his own party to secure a government funding deal ahead of a midnight deadline for shutdown.
Read more: Congress Averts Government Shutdown Hours Before Oct. 1 Deadline
–With assistance from Erik Wasson.
(Adds new statement from Bowman)
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