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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Eric Garcia

Jamaal Bowman ‘embarrassed to admit’ he pulled fire alarm during House vote

Capitol Police

Rep Jamaal Bowman admitted on Saturday that he pulled a fire alarm during a House vote but denied he did so to delay it.

The New York Democrat and member of the so-called Squad of progressive lawmakers faced criticism from Republicans and others after CCTV showed him pulling a fire alarm in a House office building amid a vote to pass a stopgap spending bill to keep the government open.

Mr Bowman released a statement late on Saturday evening claiming that he was trying to open a door that was locked.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Republicans accused him of pulling the fire alarm to try to stall a vote to pass the bill, called a continuing resolution, that would continue funding the federal government. This came around the time that Democrats had said they needed time to read the text of the continuing resolution before they voted for the bill.

Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene accused Mr Bowman of being “an insurrectionist” and violating the criminal code that says that anyone who “otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official, or attempts to do so.” Special Counsel Jack Smith accused former president Donald Trump of violating the same statute in his investigation into the former president’s actions on and leading up to the January 6 riot.

A man said to be Democratic congressman Jamaal Bowman appearing to set off a fire alarm in the Capitol as Congress raced to avoid a lockdown
— (Capitol Police)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy criticised Mr Bowman for trying to delay the vote.

“That’s a new low,” Mr McCarthy said in a press conference after the vote on Saturday. “We watched how people have been treated if they’ve done something wrong in this Capitol. It will be interesting to see how he is treated and what he was trying to obstruct.”

But Mr Bowman pushed back on the allegation.

Bowman said he was embarrassed by the incident but insisted it was an innocent mistake
— (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“But I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote,” he said. “It was the exact opposite – I was trying urgently to get to a vote, which I ultimately did and joined my colleagues in a bipartisan effort to keep our government open.”

The New York Democrat said he met with the House Sergeant at Arms and the US Capitol Police to explain what happened. The

“My hope is that no one will make more of this than it was,” Mr Bowman said. “I am working hard every day, including today, to do my job, to do it well, and deliver for my constituents.”

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