On Wednesday, the US House of Representatives undertook a significant decision to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) due to his action of pulling a fire alarm in a congressional office building. This event led to a significant evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building ahead of a critical vote on a spending bill. The House vote on Bowman’s censure showcased a divided chamber, with 211 Republicans voting against him, one abstaining, and only three Democrats siding with censuring him. Additionally, 15 Democrats didn’t vote, while four voted present, and 191 voted against the censure.
Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI) initiated the censure resolution, categorizing it as “privileged,” which compelled House leadership to address the issue within a short timeframe. The final vote on the censure motion was expected imminently after the resolution’s introduction.
Bowman’s act of pulling the fire alarm earlier this year led to an evacuation and was considered a disruption to the House proceedings. Although Bowman accepted a plea deal resulting in a misdemeanor count and issued an apology for the incident, he refuted any intention to delay a vote, despite the progressive representative’s apology.
McClain emphasized the necessity for consequences in response to Bowman’s actions, stating that pulling a fire alarm to disrupt Congressional activities was not just unacceptable but also against the law. She advocated for Bowman to face the House and acknowledge the censure.
The Democrats made an attempt to table the censure measure, but the motion failed with a vote count of 216-201. Notably, Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA), the ranking member of the ethics panel that refused to probe Bowman, voted “present” during this decision-making process.
During the debate on the censure motion, Bowman expressed dissatisfaction with the Republican stance, stating that the matter had already been examined by the Republican-controlled House ethics committee, which opted against further investigation. Bowman considered the move to censure him as an affront to the constituents he represents.
Additionally, former Rep. George Santos made efforts to instigate a House vote to expel Bowman, mirroring the expulsion Santos faced himself from the chamber after a House Ethics Committee report regarding his alleged misconduct, coupled with federal charges including aggravated identity theft, conspiracy, and wire fraud.