Democratic representative accused of pulling fire alarm near Capitol to delay funding vote

Democratic representative accused of pulling fire alarm near Capitol to delay funding vote

(As originally published with sound and additional photos, Sat, September 30th 2023, 4:24 PM EDT)

WASHINGTON (TND) — A congressman from New York is being accused of bad behavior before the House voted on the funding bill to keep federal agencies open. An investigation is already underway and there are calls for prosecution.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., pulled the alarm in a Capitol office building.

The GOP-controlled House Administration Committee, which oversees issues pertaining to the Capitol complex, posted a picture from the U.S. Capitol Police showing a man pulling the fire alarm who appeared to be Bowman.

In a late-night statement, Bowman said, “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.”

Earlier, a spokesperson put out this statement:

“Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote. The Congressman regrets any confusion.”

Though steps were well underway to avoid a government shutdown, the congressman tweeted at 2:05 p.m., offering help to constituents “throughout the shutdown.”

The fire alarm was triggered in the Cannon House Office Building at around noon, as lawmakers scrambled to pass the bill to fund the government. That prompted a building-wide evacuation. The building was reopened an hour later after Capitol Police determined it was not a threat.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called for Bowman to be punished and compared the action to the Jan. 6 riot.

At a news conference after the vote, a reporter asked McCarthy about what happened.

“When you think about how other people were treated when they come in and wanted to change the course of what was happening in the building,” McCarthy answered.

Democratic representative accused of pulling fire alarm near Capitol to delay funding vote
Picture showing a man who appeared to be Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., pulling the fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building, Sept. 30, 2023. (U.S. Capitol Police)

Apparently, the speaker had not yet learned all the details and tried to verify with the reporter,

“Did he deny he did it when it’s on tape?”

McCarthy said he’d speak to the Democratic leader, referring to Minority Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., about the matter.

Then, he wondered, “What’s going through a person’s mind like that?”

McCarthy added, the Ethics Committee should take the pulled fire alarm “seriously,” while the House Administration Committee is reportedly already investigating.

Jeffries met with Bowman shortly after the vote and Bowman said his fellow New York colleague was “supportive.”

“He understood that it was a mistake and that’s all it was,” he said.

Jeffries added that the reaction from McCarthy and other Republicans is dishonest.

“(McCarthy’s) trying to weaponize a mistake of me coming, rushing to get to a vote as something nefarious when it wasn’t,” he said.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., tweeted that Bowman “interrupted the official proceedings of the House as Republicans worked to keep the government open.”

“I’m calling on the DOJ to prosecute him using the same law they used to prosecute J6 defendants for interfering with an official proceeding,” she continued. “The Democrats literally will do anything to shut OUR government down because billions aren’t going to their favorite country: Ukraine.”

After the fire alarm incident, the House swiftly approved a 45-day funding bill to keep federal agencies open.
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Information from The Associated Press was used in this story.

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