GOP-led House votes to censure Jamaal Bowman over fire alarm incident

December 7, 2023

The House on Thursday voted 214 to 191 largely along party lines to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) for falsely pulling the fire alarm in a Congressional office building in September.

Democratic Reps. Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Jahana Hays of Connecticut and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington joined all other Republicans in voting in favor of censure.

In October Bowman pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor related to the incident. He said at the time of the incident that he was “rushing to make a vote” when he “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 that it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this cost.”

Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI) introduced the censure resolution, accusing Bowman of pulling the alarm to “cause chaos and the stop the House from doing its business” amid the chamber’s voting on a bill to fund the government ahead of a government shutdown deadline. 

Bowman has countered that Republicans’ move to censure him “continues to demonstrate their inability to govern and serve the American people.”

Congressional censure has long been viewed by lawmakers as a punishment of last resort. Yet they have reportedly piled up in the House during this session of Congress, becoming common tools for partisan criticism.

Before this past June, the House had censured members just 24 times in its entire history. This year, the chamber has already censured two members—both Democrats: Adam Schiff of California and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. 

An effort by House Democrats, who are in the chamber’s thin minority, to censure then-Rep. George Santos (R-NY) failed over the summer. The House of Representatives earlier this month voted overwhelmingly to expel Santos following a scathing Ethics Committee report that accused him of having ” blatantly stole from his campaign” and “deceived donors.”

“This is a profoundly stupid resolution,” Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) said while defending Bowman. “Under Republican control, this chamber has become a place where trivial issues get debated passionately, and important ones not at all. Republicans have focused more on censuring people in this Congress than passing bills that help people we represent or improving this country in any way.”

PHOTO Source: Cannon House Office Building security camera 

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