On Saturday, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), alleged that he made an innocent mistake and accidentally pulled the fire alarm that prompted chaos in the office buildings near the House of Representatives. Now, surfaced images of the fire alarm in question pour cold water on Bowman’s claims, suggesting that the incident was an intentional effort to delay a vote on the stopgap spending bill.
The alarm, a bright red lever, is clearly marked with the words “FIRE,” and sits next to two signs providing explicit details on how to open the emergency door at the Canaan House Office Building.
“Emergency Exit Only!” the signs read. “Push until alarm sounds (3 seconds). Door will unlock in 30 seconds.”
Bowman, a vocal socialist from New York, was seen pulling the fire alarm on surveillance footage and would have only needed to turn his head to the right to see the bright red signs. He maintains that it was simply a mistake.
“Today, as I was rushing to make a vote, I came to a door that is usually open for votes but today would not open,” Bowman said in a statement posted on X.
“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.”
Bowman’s chief of staff, Sarah Iddrissu, claimed in a social media post that “Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote.”
However, the excuses made by Bowman were quickly contested by many voices on Capitol Hill, including House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“This should not go without punishment. This is embarrassing,” McCarthy told journalists after the vote. “You’re elected to be a member of Congress — you pull a fire alarm in the minutes and hours before the government being shut down, trying to dictate the government would shut down?”
“This is not confusing at all,” former Michigan Republican congressman Justin Amash wrote on X. “There’s a push bar on the door below the sign. Members of Congress see these signs all the time and know exactly what they mean.
“I can’t even imagine thinking it has something to do with a fire alarm pull on the wall,” Amash added. “Stop excusing his recklessness.”
Bowman’s actions came as the House was working to avoid a government shutdown. The alarm prompted an evacuation and delayed the deal, prompting many to question if Bowman’s motives were more than just a simple mistake.
“He was a school principal. He knows exactly what pulling a fire alarm means,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) fumed. “He did it while the Dems were trying to stall for time for the Senate and the Dem whip had just called for a motion to adjourn.”
Bowman insisted to reporters afterwards that he wasn’t trying to stall anything and was simply in a hurry and pulled it without thinking.
“I was rushing to make a vote. I was trying to get through the door,” he said. “I thought the alarm would open the door. I didn’t mean to cause confusion.”
“I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay the vote,” he added. “It was the exact opposite — I was trying urgently to get to a vote, which I ultimately did.”
Capitol Police are probing the incident, and released the still image of Bowman pulling the alarm on Saturday. The House Administration Committee has also launched an investigation.
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