Representative Jamaal Bowman pulled a fire alarm at the Cannon building in Washington, D.C., on Saturday as lawmakers sought to reach an agreement to fund the federal government in order to avert a shutdown, according to House Republicans.
Congress scrambled to pass legislation to fund the federal government on Saturday afternoon, ultimately passing a bipartisan short-term spending bill that will keep federal funding at its current levels for 45 days, and awaits a vote in the Senate. The voting mayhem follows weeks of fears that Congress would be unable to reach a deal by the end of September—and less than 10 hours until the government was set to shut down.
Amid the chaos, a fire alarm went off at the Cannon building, which houses congressional offices, according to a statement from Representative Bryan Steil, a Wisconsin Republican who chairs the House Administration committee.
In his statement, Steil wrote that Bowman—a Democrat who represents New York’s 16th Congressional District, containing parts of the Bronx and New York City’s northern suburbs—pulled the alarm, but did not go into further detail in the initial statement.
“Rep Jamaal Bowman pulled a fire alarm in Cannon this morning. An investigation into why it was pulled is underway,” he wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
A Capitol Police department spokesperson wrote in a statement to Newsweek, “Today at 12:05 p.m., a fire alarm was activated on the 2nd floor of the Cannon House Office Building. The building was evacuated while USCP officers checked the building. The building was reopened after it was determined that there was not a threat. An investigation into what happened and why continues.”
In addition, Bowman’s press secretary Emma Simon responded to the investigation in a statement to Newsweek on Saturday afternoon.
“Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote. The Congressman regrets any confusion,” Simon wrote.
Bowman also told reporters that he believed the alarm would open the door, Axios journalist Juliegrace Brufke reported.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, posted a video to X showing the fire alarm going off inside the building.
Capitol police have also released an image appearing to show Bowman standing near the fire alarm, according to Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman.
“Capitol Police are circulating this photo of a man pulling the fire alarm in Cannon. Looks a lot like Jamaal Bowman,” he wrote.
Bowman pulling the fire alarm sparked outrage from conservatives, who said that pulling the alarm constitutes the crime of disrupting an official proceeding and that he should face consequences for doing so.
Representative Nicole Malliotakis, a New York Republican, was drafting a resolution to have him expelled, while Representative Lisa McClain, a Michigan Republican, was planning to introduce a resolution to censure him, reported Politico’s Olivia Beavers.
“This is the United States Congress, not a New York City high school. To pull the fire alarm to disrupt proceedings when we are trying to draft legislation to AVERT A SHUTDOWN is pathetic…even for members of the socialist squad,” Malliotakis wrote on X.
Greene wrote in another post to X: “Democrat Rep. Jamaal Bowman pulled the fire alarm in the Cannon building this afternoon and interrupted the official proceedings of the House as Republicans worked to keep the government open. I’m calling on the DOJ to prosecute him using the same law they used to prosecute J6 defendants for interfering with an official proceeding.”
In addition, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called the congressman’s actions a “new low.”
“We watched how people have been treated if they’ve done something wrong in this Capitol. It will be interesting to see how he was treated, on what he was trying to obstruct when it came to the American public,” he said in a press conference Saturday afternoon.