House Censures Democrat Who Pulled Fire Alarm During Vote

December 7, 2023

The House of Representatives on Thursday censured Rep. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.) after the Democrat falsely pulled a fire alarm in a House office building during a September vote to avoid a government shutdown.

Three Democrats joined Republicans to censure Bowman by a vote of 214-191, with 5 members voting "present," The Hill reported. The three Democrats who voted to censure Bowman were Reps. Chris Pappas (N.H.), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (Wash.), and Jahana Hayes (Conn.).

The resolution's sponsor, Rep. Lisa McClain (R., Mich.), said Wednesday that Bowman "knowingly pulled a fire alarm to cause chaos and stop the House from doing its business."

"The Republican majority held our own former member accountable after the House Ethics Committee found he engaged in criminal behavior," McClain said, referencing last week's expulsion of Rep. George Santos (R., N.Y.). "It would be hypocritical for the House Democrats to not join us in holding one of their own members accountable who actually pled guilty to breaking the law."

Bowman in October pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge stemming from his pulling of the alarm, and incident that was captured on security footage. He has claimed that he pulled it because he erroneously thought pulling the alarm would open the door.

"When I tried to exit a door that I usually go through it didn’t open and due to confusion and rush to go vote, I pulled the fire alarm," he said on the House floor in his defense Wednesday, according to The Hill. "I immediately took responsibility and accountability for my actions and pled guilty. Immediately. The legal process on this matter has played out. In no way did I obstruct official proceedings. The vote took place."

Security camera video showed Bowman attempting to open the door and removing warning signs before pulling the alarm and walking away. In the aftermath of the incident, his office sent out a list of talking points for other Democrats to defend him, with one point suggesting that "Republicans need to instead focus their energy on the Nazi members of their party before anything else." He later disavowed that talking point.

Bowman is the second Democrat to face a censure resolution in the past month from the Republican-controlled House. Twenty-two Democrats joined Republicans to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D., Mich.) for her use of the phrase "from the river to the sea," which many have described as an anti-Semitic call for the destruction of the State of Israel.

Published under: Jamaal Bowman