Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) pulled a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building on Saturday ahead of the House passing a stopgap measure to fund the government ahead of the midnight deadline, causing the building to be evacuated.
Republicans are accusing Bowman of intentionally trying to sabotage the vote, launching an investigation into the incident and preparing legislation to expel him from the House.
But Bowman says it was an accident.
“Today, as I was rushing to make a vote, I came to a door that is usually open for votes but today would not open. I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused,” he said in a statement.
“But I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote. 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.”
House Administration Committee Chairman Brian Steil (R-Wis.) said he will launch an investigation into the incident, saying that the committee has video of the incident.
Capitol Police are also investigating the incident, saying in a statement that the fire alarm was pulled at 12:05 p.m. on the second floor of the Cannon building.
But House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) mentioned the fire alarm pull in a press conference, saying the stopgap passed “despite House Democrats attempts to delay, to obstruct, and to even pull a fire alarm to stop this important vote from happening.”
“This is serious,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) added in a press conference, saying he would talk to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) about the incident. “This should not go without punishment.”
Jeffries said in a press conference that he would have no further comment on the incident until he sees the video.
McCarthy also appeared to compare Bowman to those charged with crimes in connection with the January 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
“We watched how people have been treated if they’ve done something wrong in this Capitol. It will be interesting to see how he is treated on what he was trying to obstruct when it came to the American public,” McCarthy said.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) also compared Bowman to January 6.
“I’m demanding that the Department of Justice prosecute him using the same way they prosecuted January 6 defendants. It’s the exact same law,” Greene said, pointing to a federal statute that prohibits obstructing or impeding any official proceeding.
And Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) is drafting a resolution to expel Bowman from the House.
“This is the United States Congress, not a New York City high school,” Malliotakis posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “To pull the fire alarm to disrupt proceedings when we are trying to draft legislation to AVERT A SHUTDOWN is pathetic…even for members of the socialist squad.”
Not long after the Cannon building was cleared, members of Congress voted to advance a bill to fund the government, sending it to the Senate. Lawmakers have until midnight Sunday morning to avert a government shutdown.
The stopgap measure, which continues the current federal budget for 45 days but removes funding to support the war in Ukraine, passed on a bipartisan 335-91 vote. Bowman voted in favor of the resolution.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Senate Republicans would support the House bill.
Updated at 10:02 p.m.
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