He didn’t start the fire, but he did raise the alarm.
A growing chorus of lawmakers and political observers are raising eyebrows as Rep. Jamaal Bowman claims that pulling a fire alarm in a House building was an innocent mistake — and some are expressing anger that he was not arrested.
The outspoken socialist New York lawmaker was caught on camera Saturday pulling a fire alarm around the time his fellow Democrats were discussing Republicans’ last-minute offer to avert a government shutdown.
“Congressman Bowman didn’t know he was setting off a building alarm as he rushed to take an urgent vote,” said his chief of staff Sarah Iddrissu, continued writing later social media. “The congressman regrets any confusion.”
But Bowman’s reaction to pulling the clearly marked fire alarm in the Canaan House office building left many scratching their heads – and some of his harshest GOP critics calling for him to be put behind bars over the incident.
“Want Congressman [Jamaal] “Bowman will be prosecuted and imprisoned for very dangerously disabling and setting off the main fire alarm system to prevent a congressional vote in Washington, DC,” he said President Donald Trump stated.
“It was a very dangerous ‘obstruction of official proceedings,’ just like the one used against our J-6 detainees. Actually, what he did could have been worse.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) expressed a similar sentiment.
“Jamaal Bowman must be treated the same as the January 6 defendants. He was a principal,” Greene posted on X, formerly Twitter.
“He knows exactly what it means to pull a fire alarm. He did it while Democrats were trying to buy time in the Senate and the Democratic leader had just filed a motion to adjourn.”
Donald Trump Jr. also brought up the defendants over the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol when he confronted Bowman.
“If they’re not going to charge Rep Bowman with a crime for endangering the lives of people in the capital and obstructing the proceedings of Congress, then they better let every single J6er rotting in prison for non-violent crimes out with an apology and compensation.” Now!” he seethed.
An investigation into the incident by the House Administration Committee is underway, and Bowman confirmed he was sitting with Capitol Police for questioning.
Bowman pulled the fire alarm as Democrats used desperate tactics to delay the vote on the Republican stopgap bill. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (Brooklyn, Queens) used his privilege to speak and force a vote on a motion to adjourn.
He later insisted to reporters that he pulled it because he thought it would open a door – and denied that he was trying to stop the vote.
“I was rushing to vote, I was trying to get through a door. I thought the alarm would open the door,” he said. “I didn’t want to cause any confusion. . . I didn’t know it was going to trip the whole building.”
He added: “I want to be very clear that I have in no way tried to delay the vote. It was exactly the opposite – I tried urgently to get a vote, which I ultimately succeeded in doing.”
Not everyone bought it.
One lawmaker, Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.), posted a photo of a fire alarm and joked, “I’m about to flush the toilet.”
“This is not confusing at all,” chimed in former Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.). “There is a push bar on the door underneath the sign.
“Members of Congress see these signs all the time and know exactly what they mean. I can’t even imagine it has anything to do with a fire alarm on the wall,” he continued. “Stop making excuses for his recklessness.”
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) posted a video showing a verbal argument he had with Bowman in March, writing: “In case you missed it, this is the same stable person who pulled the fire alarm at the Capitol today “Voices.”
One reporter, Mona Salama, compared the chaos in the halls of Congress on Saturday to an episode of the television show “The Office,” in which crooked salesman Dwight Schrute staged a fire drill.
“Brought the house to the point today,” she wrote.
Matthew Foldi, a political reporter for The Spectator, charged: “Jamaal Bowman is a criminal who knowingly obstructed Congress. I wonder if he did this single-handedly or under orders from someone else?”
John Hasson, a writer for Townhall, noted that Cornerstone Academy for Social Action in the Bronx, where Bowman previously served as principal, is threatening to suspend or expel students who maliciously pull the fire alarm.
Still, some Democrats and liberal pundits rushed to Bowman’s defense.
“If you are a politician or pundit who condemns Jamaal Bowman for pulling a fire alarm but said nothing last week when Paul Gosar called General Milley a ‘sodomy-promoting’ traitor and a ‘quisling’ who deserves it, to be hanged…then forgive me if I don’t take your convictions seriously,” wrote MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan.
“I think there’s something to be said – the government is on the verge of shutting down. There is a voting clock that is ticking down. “The normally open exits in this building were suddenly closed,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“I’ll be honest, it doesn’t really make sense to me – his explanation,” host Jake Tapper responded.
Ocasio-Cortez also criticized Republicans for refusing to punish scandal-plagued Rep. George Santos, D-New York, who has been charged with, among other things, lying to House investigators.
“[Bowman] is embarrassing. He released a statement last night. He apologized,” she said. “[Republicans] We are protecting someone who not only committed wire fraud, not only defrauded veterans, not only lied to congressional investigators, but openly gloated about it.”
Santos hit Bowman with a public service announcement explaining what fire alarms do and why they shouldn’t be triggered unnecessarily.
“PSA: Special to all the boys and girls who studied at Cornerstone Academy for Social Action because your principal may not have taught you,” Santos posted on social media with a video explanation about fire alarms.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) used Sunday’s panic to shift blame from Republicans for bringing the country to the brink of a shutdown.
“[Democrats] even went so far as to pull the fire alarm to avoid trying to settle the bill [sic]” McCarthy said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “The Democrats are sticking together, but they didn’t want the bill.”
Ultimately, the House passed the spending patch by a vote of 335-91, and the package was approved by the Senate and received President Biden’s signature.