McCarthy promises ‘punishment’ over House Democrat’s fire alarm before vote

WASHINGTON — Speaker Kevin McCarthy promised punishment for New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman on Saturday and called his alleged tactic to delay a House vote by pulling an office building fire alarm “a new low.”

Following House passage of a 47-day continuing resolution that would keep the government open through mid-November, McCarthy told reporters he intended to speak with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Bowman denied the alarm was a delaying tactic, but McCarthy compared it to the actions of Jan. 6 rioters, remarking on how “other people were treated” when they’ve attempted to delay the legislative process.

“This should not go without punishment. This is embarrassing,” McCarthy said. “You’re elected to be a member of Congress — you pull a fire alarm in the minutes and hours before the government being shut down, trying to dictate the government would shut down?”

House Administration Committee Republicans tweeted Saturday afternoon that an investigation into why the alarm was pulled was underway. The Capitol Police said they were investigating the incident. A fire alarm was pulled just after noon Saturday on the second floor of the Cannon House Office Building, prompting its evacuation.

Bowman, a progressive former middle school principal with a penchant for getting in viral shouting matches with his conservative colleagues, said the incident was a mistake.

“I was rushing to make a vote, I was trying to get through a door. I thought the alarm would open the door,” Bowman told reporters. “I didn’t mean to cause confusion… I didn’t know it was going to trip the whole building.”

Bowman pulled the fire alarm as Democrats were reviewing the text of a surprise continuing resolution that had just been shared by Republicans. The stopgap funding bill, which would keep the government open through Nov. 17, but without aid for Ukraine, ultimately passed the House 335-91. Every Democrat except Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, the co-chair of the House Ukraine Caucus, supported the measure. But before that happened, Democrats employed delay tactics, including a roll call vote on a motion to adjourn the chamber and Jeffries using his privilege as party leader to deliver a lengthy speech.


Other Republicans also called for punishment for Bowman, ranging from censure to expulsion.

“This is the United States Congress, not a New York City high school,” New York Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “This action warrants expulsion & I’m introducing a resolution to do just that.”

Bowman was elected in New York’s 16th District in 2020 after defeating Rep. Eliot Engel in the Democratic primary. He was recruited to politics by the Justice Democrats, and like other candidates favored by that political action committee — most notably New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — Bowman is outspoken and willing to aggressively expand the government’s reach in pursuit of social justice.

[Threat of government shutdown ends as Congress passes a temporary funding plan and sends it to Biden]

[Alarm grows in Kyiv, Washington as GOP House blocks Ukraine aid]