Democrat Lawmaker Under Investigation After Pulling Fire Alarm in Old House Office Building Before Vote

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
September 30, 2023Congress
Democrat Lawmaker Under Investigation After Pulling Fire Alarm in Old House Office Building Before Vote
Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) speaks to reporters in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on March 22, 2023. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) is under investigation after he triggered a fire alarm ahead of a House vote on a government funding bill on Saturday.

“Rep (Jamaal) Bowman pulled a fire alarm in Cannon this morning,” House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil (R-Wisc.) announced in a statement on Saturday. “An investigation into why it was pulled is underway.”

The fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building, often called the “Old House Office Building,” was triggered around noon, leading to an evacuation of the entire building while the House was in session.

The building was reopened an hour later, after Capitol Police determined the situation was not a threat.

Mr. Bowman’s office has characterized the move as an innocent accident.

In a statement late Saturday to “personally clear up confusion” surrounding the situation, Mr. Bowman said that he was “rushing to make a vote” when he “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.

“But I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote,” he stressed. “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.

“I also met after the vote with the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police, at their request, and explained what had happened,” the Democrat congressman said. “My hope is that no one will make more of this than it was.”

Capitol Police said in a statement late Saturday that an “investigation into what happened and why continues.”

The fire alarms in the Old House Office Building are pull down triggers encased in bright red boxes that read “FIRE.”

The Epoch Times has reached out to the Capitol Police for further comment.

At the time of the evacuation, Democrat lawmakers in the House were working to delay a vote on a 45-day funding bill to keep federal agencies open. They said they needed time to review the 71-page bill that Republicans had just released to avoid a shutdown.

The stopgap funding bill was ultimately passed in a 335-91 vote. Mr. Bowman and a majority of Democrats voted in support of the bill, which now heads to the Democrat-majority Senate.

Lawmakers in the Senate in a vote late Saturday night passed the measure, sending it to President Joe Biden to sign in order to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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