House Censures Democrat Bowman Over Fire Alarm

New York congressman says he triggered it accidentally during shutdown scramble
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 7, 2023 12:13 PM CST
House Censures Democrat Bowman Over Fire Alarm
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

House members voted again Thursday to punish one of their own, targeting Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman for triggering a fire alarm in one of the Capitol office buildings when the chamber was in session. The Republican censure resolution passed with some Democratic votes, but most Democrats stood by Bowman in opposition of an effort they said lacked credibility, per the AP. The prominent progressive now becomes the third Democratic House member to be admonished this year through the censure process, which is a punishment one step below expulsion from the House.

"It's painfully obvious to myself, my colleagues and the American people that the Republican Party is deeply unserious and unable to legislate," Bowman said Wednesday as he defended himself. The 214-191 vote to censure Bowman caps nearly a year of chaos in the House, including the first ouster of a speaker in history and, just last week, the expulsion of a lawmaker for only the third time since the Civil War. Bowman is the 27th person to be censured by the chamber—and the third this year. Last month, Republicans censured Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan over her comments about Israel-Hamas war. In June, Democrat Adam Schiff of California was censured for comments he made several years ago about investigations into then-President Donald Trump's ties to Russia.

Bowman pleaded guilty in October to a misdemeanor count for the incident, which took place in the Cannon House Office Building as lawmakers scrambled to pass a bill to fund the government before a shutdown deadline. He agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and serve three months of probation, after which the charge is expected to be dismissed from his record. The fire alarm prompted a building-wide evacuation when the House was in session and staffers were working in the building. The building was reopened an hour later after Capitol Police determined there was no threat. Bowman apologized and said at the time that he was trying to get through a door that was usually open but was closed that day because it was the weekend.

(More Jamaal Bowman stories.)

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