Rep. Bowman says triggering fire alarm ahead of House spending bill vote was 'innocent mistake'

"I was rushing to make a vote," the Democrat told ABC News.

September 30, 2023, 6:25 PM

U.S. Capitol Police are investigating after a fire alarm was triggered in a congressional office building before the House of Representatives voted on a stopgap spending bill as a government shutdown looms.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., admitted to pulling the alarm in the Cannon House Office Building -- though told ABC News the incident was an "innocent mistake."

"I was rushing to make a vote," Bowman said.

"I didn't know it would trigger the whole building," he added.

Bowman said he thought the alarm -- which is red and says "FIRE" in capital letters -- would open the door he typically uses to get from his office building to the Capitol for votes.

PHOTO: ABC News obtained a screenshot of a Capitol security video showing Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., pulling the fire alarm on Sept. 30, 2023.
ABC News obtained a screenshot of a Capitol security video showing Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., pulling the fire alarm on Sept. 30, 2023.

The fire alarm was triggered at 12:05 p.m. on the second floor of the building, according to a U.S. Capitol Police spokesperson. The building was evacuated and reopened after officers determined there was no threat.

"An investigation into what happened and why continues," the Capitol Police spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News.

The alarm went off as Democrats were scrambling to make it back to the Capitol to vote and buy themselves more time to review the GOP bill.

Republicans are already accusing Bowman of obstructing the House's work -- likening his actions to the charges the Justice Department has leveled against former President Donald Trump and hundreds of Jan. 6 rioters.

"We've watched how people have been treated if they've done something wrong in this Capitol. It would be interesting to see how he is treated," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters Saturday afternoon.

McCarthy also called for an Ethics Committee investigation, while at least one Republican is calling for Bowman to be expelled.

"This is the United States Congress, not a New York City high school. This action warrants expulsion & I'm introducing a resolution to do just that," Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., posted on X.

Bowman said the suggestion that he was trying to delay the vote was "complete B.S."

Republicans "will do what they're going to do," he said in response to their threats.

The House ultimately passed the 45-day stopgap spending bill -- sending it to the Senate with hours left before the shutdown deadline. In the 335-91 vote, just one House Democrat voted against the bill, while 90 Republicans opposed McCarthy's bipartisan solution. Seven lawmakers missed the vote.

After the vote, the House quickly adjourned until noon on Monday -- so if the Senate fails to approve the House bill, they won't come back to try something else.

Lawmakers have until the end of the day Saturday to reach a deal to keep much of the government open. If they fail, the U.S. will head into what would be one of the largest government shutdowns in history.

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