House Advances Resolution To Censure Bowman
U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) speaks at a news conference calling for a ceasefire in Gaza outside the U.S. Capitol building on November 13, 2023 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The GOP-led House opted on Wednesday to advance a resolution to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) for pulling a fire alarm in a congressional office building.

A motion to table the measure from the Democrats failed by a 216-201 vote. Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA), who is the ranking member of the ethics panel that declined to investigate Bowman over the incident, voting “present.” Another 16 members did not vote.

Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI) introduced the censure resolution on Tuesday as “privileged,” prompting House leadership to act on the measure within two legislative days. Debate on the censure resolution has begun and a final vote is expected to take place as soon as Thursday. “Nobody is above the law, Congressmen included,” McClain said.

Bowman took a plea deal on a misdemeanor count of falsely pulling a fire alarm that resulted in a temporary evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building in late September ahead of a government spending vote. The congressman has apologized for the incident and denied that he pulled the fire alarm as a delay tactic.

“Unfortunately, Republicans are here trying to rehash an already litigated matter, a matter in which the Republican-controlled House committee of ethics decided to not proceed with any further investigation,” Bowman said during debate on the censure resolution. “This is an insult to the people I was elected to represent.”

McClain, in advocating for her resolution, said in a post to X, “Actions must be met with consequences. Rep. Bowman pulling a fire alarm to curtail an act of Congress was unacceptable and against the law. For that, he must stand before Congress and accept Censure.”

Last week, Rep. George Santos (R-NY) moved to force a House vote to expel Bowman, but the embattled New York Republican got expelled the next day. His expulsion followed the release of a scathing House Ethics Committee report. Santos also faces 23 federal charges —  including aggravated identity theft, wire fraud, and conspiracy — to which he has pleaded not guilty.

A censure against a member of the House is essentially a formal rebuke of that lawmaker. It is a less severe form of punishment than expulsion. House members who have been censured this year include Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

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