House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is calling for Rep. Jamaal Bowman to be punished after he pulled a fire alarm in a Capitol office building. McCarthy compared the incident to the Jan 6 attack on the Capitol by rioters. He argued that others who have sought to change the course of events in the building have been treated harshly, and therefore, Bowman’s actions should not go without consequences. McCarthy believes that the Ethics Committee should take the pulled fire alarm seriously. Bowman’s office admitted that he pulled the alarm but claimed it was unintentional.
Bowman’s spokesperson stated that the congressman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote. They expressed regret for any confusion caused by the incident. Democratic Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries stated that he had not seen the video of the fire alarm being pulled and refrained from commenting until he had more information. The House Administration Committee, chaired by Bryan Steil, is already investigating the incident. The U.S. Capitol Police have not yet responded to requests for comment.
The fire alarm was sounded in the Cannon office building, which is connected to the Capitol via an underground tunnel, as Republicans attempted to start a vote on a 45-day spending measure. Democrats attempted to delay the vote, as they had received little notice about it and complained that they hadn’t had enough time to read the bill. Rep. Jeffries delivered a lengthy speech to provide time for his party to determine their stance on the bill. Ultimately, the vote began two and a half hours later than scheduled, with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting the measure.
In light of Rep. Bowman’s actions, McCarthy is pushing for punishment and likening it to the consequences faced by others who have sought to change the course of events in the Capitol. The incident has sparked an investigation by the House Administration Committee, chaired by Bryan Steil. While Bowman’s office claimed the fire alarm pull was unintentional, McCarthy believes it should not go without consequences. The Democrats’ attempt to delay the vote has further heightened tensions between the parties, with Republicans accusing them of preventing a timely vote on the spending measure. The fallout from this incident underscores the ongoing political divisions and challenges in the functioning of the U.S. Congress.