Bowman released a statement insisting that he simply made a mistake in the Cannon House Office Building while making his way to a spending bill vote in the nearby U.S. Capitol Building.
“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. 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,” Bowman said.
Jake Sherman, a co-founder of Punchbowl News, responded to the statement with a skeptical post to X.
For those who work on Capitol Hill — or even those who don’t — this makes no sense.
1) have you in your life ever activated a fire alarm in a large public building to open a door?
2) there are tunnels that take you from this building straight to the Capitol. It’s very easy. I do… https://t.co/FArSEHn7wz
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) October 1, 2023
“For those who work on Capitol Hill — or even those who don’t — this makes no sense,” Sherman said. “1) have you in your life ever activated a fire alarm in a large public building to open a door? 2) there are tunnels that take you from this building straight to the Capitol. It’s very easy. I do it daily.”
Another Punchbowl News co-founder, John Bresnahan, posted images of the door and signs in front of it. “This doesn’t really seem that confusing,” he said.
This doesn’t really seem that confusing pic.twitter.com/EXM5VOWJAp
— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) September 30, 2023
Others also cast doubt on Bowman’s version of events, including Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), who challenged Bowman earlier this year in a viral confrontation on gun control.
“Has anyone ever told our colleague? We don’t have to go outside to vote. All House and Senate office buildings are connected to the Capitol with tunnels, for getting to votes quickly,” Massie said in a post to X.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) offered a defense of Bowman in a response to Sherman.
“Fwiw, Cannon construction reroutes have made the tunnel walks from Cannon to the Capitol much longer than going outside. Entire tunnels are closed & some offices near construction have disorienting routes. The NJ/Ind exit (which this looks like) is the easiest & it’s usually open,” she said.
Bowman is now facing an investigation into the incident — which was caught on camera. In addition, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said he would have a “discussion” about the matter with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
🚨🚨NEW — Capitol Police are circulating this photo of a man pulling the fire alarm in Cannon. Looks a lot like Jamaal Bowman pic.twitter.com/khzpigSvWI
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) September 30, 2023
In his statement, Bowman denied that pulling the fire alarm was a delay tactic in a showdown over spending that ultimately resulted in Washington averting a government shutdown with a 45-day continuing resolution.
“But I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote,” the congressman 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. I also met after the vote with the Sergeant at Arms and the Capitol Police, at their request, and explained what had happened. My hope is that no one will make more of this than it was. I am working hard every day, including today, to do my job, to do it well, and deliver for my constituents.”