House Votes To Censure Bowman Over Fire Alarm Incident
Representative Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat from New York, during a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023.
(Haiyun Jiang/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The GOP-led House voted on Thursday to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) for pulling a fire alarm in a congressional office building in September when there was not an emergency.

Three Democrats joined with the majority of Republicans to approve the resolution, making for a final tally of 214-191. Five other members, including one Republican, voted “present,” while 23 lawmakers did not vote.

“We are a nation of laws, and when someone breaks those laws, they deserve to be held accountable. Today, the House censured Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who pulled a fire alarm to obstruct the work of Congress,” Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI), who introduced the censure resolution, said in a post to X. “Actions have consequences, and no one is above the law.”

Despite the outcome, Bowman appeared to be in good spirits, smiling and hugging fellow Democrats who gathered around him on the House floor.

Bowman, a former middle school principal and member of the leftist “Squad,” faced controversy after 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.

A criminal probe ensued, and Bowman eventually took a plea deal on a misdemeanor count of falsely pulling a fire alarm. Bowman apologized for his actions but denied that he pulled the fire alarm as a delay tactic, as some have alleged. The House Ethics Committee later declined to investigate Bowman over the incident.


“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 after a motion to table the measure from the Democrats failed on Wednesday. “This is an insult to the people I was elected to represent,” he added.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) said Bowman has already faced accountability and argued that the House GOP’s latest censure effort was “worthless.”

The trio of Democrats who voted in favor of censuring Bowman — Reps. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Chris Pappas (D-NH), and Marie Gluesenkamp (D-WA) — all reportedly come from swing districts.

“At the end of the day, Representative Bowman broke the law … the resolution was a straightforward condemnation of his actions, and I voted yes,” Pappas said in a statement given to Axios.

A Punchbowl News reporter said Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), the sole Republican to vote “present,” explained his stance as, “We should have had an Ethics Committee investigation into this just like we did on someone who wasn’t actually convicted of a criminal offense.”

Bowman is now the 27th member of the House to be censured, which is essentially a formal rebuke and a less severe form of punishment than expulsion. Other House members who have been censured this year include Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) moved to force a House vote to expel Bowman last week, 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.

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