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House censures Rep. Jamaal Bowman for pulling fire alarm

Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y.

The House censured Rep. Jamaal Bowman on Thursday for pulling a fire alarm in a U.S. Capitol office building as the chamber scrambled to pass a stopgap spending bill in September.

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The chamber voted 214-191 to censure the New York Democrat, with five lawmakers voting present.

Bowman earlier admitted to having pulled a fire alarm inside the Cannon House Office Building on Sept. 30. He framed the incident as an accident and denied allegations that he pulled the alarm to delay a vote on the spending bill, which aimed to avoid a government shutdown set to begin that night.

“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 in a statement released in September. “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.”

The alarm prompted authorities to evacuate the Cannon House Office Building for about an hour. Bowman later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for falsely triggering the fire alarm and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and serve three months of probation, The Associated Press reported.

The incident happened as Democrats were trying to stall for time to allow them to review a stopgap spending bill written by Republicans and introduced moments before a vote, according to The New York Times. The timing garnered criticism from Republicans, who accused Bowman of falsely triggering the alarm on purpose.

“That’s a new low,” then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said on Sept. 30.

Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., introduced the censure resolution against Bowman on Tuesday, saying in a statement, “White the House was working tirelessly to avert a government shutdown, Representative Bowman was working nefariously to prevent a vote.”

“It is reprehensible that a Member of Congress would go to such lengths to prevent House Republicans from bringing forth a vote to keep the government operating and Americans receiving their paychecks,” she said.

The House ultimately voted 335-91 in favor of passing the spending bill.