New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman pulls fire alarm in House office building but says it was an accident

Rep. Jamaal Bowman pulled a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building on Saturday morning, shortly before the House was scheduled to vote on a government funding bill, an incident the New York Democrat said was an accident.

The incident was first revealed by House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil, a Republican from Wisconsin, who said in a statement that an investigation is underway.

Steil told CNN on Saturday evening that Bowman needed to be “far more forthcoming” about what happened when he decided to pull the fire alarm.

“We know Jamaal Bowman pulled the fire alarm. Why he did that, it is pretty unclear. His initial explanation, that it was an accident, doesn’t seem to really pass muster,” Steil told CNN’s Jim Acosta. Steil also warned that if Bowman pulled the alarm to interfere with the House voting procedure – an accusation Bowman earlier told reporters was “complete BS” – it would be “a serious violation of the law.”

Bowman’s office said it was an accident, and the congressman told reporters later Saturday: “I was trying to get to a door. I thought the alarm would open the door, and I pulled the fire alarm to open the door by accident.”

“I was just trying to get to my vote and the door that’s usually open wasn’t open, it was closed,” Bowman added.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat from New York, arrives to the US Capitol on June 22, 2023.  - Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images/FILE
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat from New York, arrives to the US Capitol on June 22, 2023. - Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images/FILE

Leadership in both parties was informed of the situation once Bowman was identified in security footage, a source familiar said.

Bowman said he met with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries about the incident shortly after the funding stopgap measure passed the House on Saturday, adding that Jeffries’ tone was “supportive” and “he understood that was a mistake.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said the House Ethics Committee should look into the incident.

“I think ethics should look at this, but this is serious,” McCarthy said in response to a reporter’s question following the House vote.

He added that he will have a discussion with Jeffries regarding the incident.

“This should not go without punishment,” McCarthy said. “This is an embarrassment. You are elected to be a member of Congress. You pulled a fire alarm, in a (matter) of hours before the government being shut down, trying to dictate that the government would shut down?”

Following McCarthy’s remarks, Rep. Lisa McClain, a Michigan Republican and member of the GOP leadership team, told CNN she was circulating a resolution to censure Bowman over the incident. She said she already has co-sponsors.

Bowman, however, laughed off the GOP response to the incident on Saturday, telling reporters, “They’re gonna do what they do. This is what they do.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

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