House censures Rep. Jamaal Bowman for pulling fire alarm

The House voted Thursday to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., for pulling a fire alarm in a congressional building while the chamber was in session in September to consider a vote to fund the government.

The 214 to 191 vote was largely along party lines, with Democratic Reps. Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Jahana Hays of Connecticut and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington joining all other Republicans in voting yes. 

Democratic Reps. Glenn Ivey of Maryland, Susan Wild and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania and Deborah Ross of North Carolina and Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland voted present.

Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., on Tuesday introduced the privileged resolution to censure Bowman, giving the House two legislative days to act on it. The House voted down a Democratic motion Wednesday to kill McClain’s resolution in a party-line vote of 201 to 216.

Bowman admitted to pulling the alarm in the Cannon House Office Building in September as Republican lawmakers sought to vote on the spending measure. He said in a statement after the incident that he accidentally activated the alarm after he came across a door that was typically open for votes but would not open that day.

Bowman pleaded guilty in October to one count of falsely pulling a fire alarm. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, he was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and write an apology to the U.S. Capitol Police chief, after which prosecutors would dismiss the charge pending no further violations of the law.

Former Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., had introduced a resolution to expel Bowman last week, but Santos himself was expelled from the House before the resolution could come to a vote. 

Republicans have accused Bowman of trying to delay the government funding vote by pulling the alarm. In September, then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., demanded Bowman be punished and likened the incident to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

McCarthy had cited “how other people were treated when they come in and wanted to change the course of what was happening in the building.”

But Bowman maintained that his actions were unintentional.

“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,” he said in a statement at the time.

“I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door,” he added. “I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused.”