A Democrat representative pulled a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building ahead of the House vote on a stopgap measure to fund the government, causing an evacuation.
Representative Jamaal Bowman, a Democrat from New York and member of the progressive “Squad”, pulled the fire alarm in what he claims was his rush to make the vote.
Republicans accused him of trying to sabotage the vote and have launched an investigation into the incident.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“But I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote. 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.”
Capitol Police are investigating the incident along with the House Administration Committee, which has obtained video of the moment the alarm was pulled.
“This is serious,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said in a press conference. “This should not go without punishment.”
McCarthy said he would speak to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries about Bowman’s actions.
Jeffries said he would not comment on the incident until he has reviewed the video.
The House ultimately passed the stopgap measure which the Senate passed with less than three hours until the government shutdown was set to begin.
President Joe Biden signed it into law just before the midnight deadline.
It keeps the government funded until November 17th, notably lacking any funding for Ukraine, any spending cuts, or any border policy changes.