Congressman Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat from New York, stated that he will admit to a misdemeanor offense and pay a penalty for triggering a fire alarm in a congressional building just before an important vote last month.
Bowman expressed gratitude for the swift resolution by the District of Columbia attorney general’s office and acknowledged the agreement of the United States Capitol police general counsel’s office that there was no obstruction, nor intention to obstruct, of any House vote or proceedings.
I am in charge of triggering a fire alarm. I will take responsibility for any fines incurred and hope that these charges will eventually be dropped.
On September 30, Saturday, Bowman was caught on video activating the alarm in the Cannon office building as the deadline for a temporary funding measure, which successfully prevented a government shutdown, approached.
The Republicans accused him of attempting to postpone the vote, but he refuted the accusation.
“I apologize for any confusion caused by my actions today. While rushing to vote, I mistakenly activated the fire alarm in an attempt to open a door that is typically accessible. I regret my mistake and acknowledge that it was embarrassing.”
Despite Republican demands for action, Kevin McCarthy, who was the House speaker at the time, even went as far as to join extremist Marjorie Taylor Greene in likening Bowman’s actions to the violent January 6 riot, during which Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.
McCarthy criticized Bowman for reaching a new low and questioned how he would be treated for his actions in the Capitol, citing past treatment of those who have done wrong. He also raised questions about what Bowman was attempting to obstruct in regards to the American public.
In Washington DC, it is considered a misdemeanor to falsely activate a fire alarm. The Attorney General of DC stated that Bowman has pleaded guilty and will pay the maximum fine. A spokesperson stated that Congressman Bowman was treated the same as anyone else who breaks the law in DC. Based on evidence from the Capitol Police, the only charge that can be prosecuted is the one filed.
On Thursday, Bowman was called to attend court. In his statement on Wednesday, he once more refuted the Republican allegations.
“I want to clarify,” he stated. “I was not attempting to obstruct the voting process in any way. On the contrary, I was eagerly working to secure a prompt vote and ultimately succeeded, joining my fellow lawmakers in a nonpartisan endeavor to maintain government operations.”
According to Bowman, the Republicans are likely to use this situation as a means of diverting attention from their current problems. This is in regards to the recent three-week disagreement over selecting a new speaker to replace McCarthy, which came to a close on Wednesday with the appointment of Louisiana’s Mike Johnson, a staunch supporter of President Trump.
Bowman, a former school principal in the Bronx in New York City, is a prominent and determined progressive who has frequently been the subject of criticism from Republican opponents.
On Wednesday, Lisa McLain, a Republican from Michigan, put forth a proposal to officially reprimand Bowman and “strip him of all committee duties for the rest of the 118th Congress”.
Bryan Steil, the head of the House administration committee for the Republican party, requested an inquiry into potential ethical concerns related to the resolution of the criminal investigation regarding the fire alarm incident.
Steil stated that Bowman’s justification is not believable. He also pointed out that after setting off the fire alarm, Bowman ran away and had the chance to inform the US Capitol police but chose not to, despite passing by multiple officers.
I would like to express my gratitude to the US Capitol police for responding quickly to this situation. I also urge the ethics committee to continue investigating this issue.
I am eager to move past this and continue my dedication to serving New Yorkers.