Government shutdowns are all the rage in Washington, D.C. But now, one leading Democrat has a new tactic to change the course of voting in the Republican-controlled House: Just pull a fire alarm to clear the building and prevent a vote.
On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution to keep borrowing money for another 45 days, which will keep government services like Fat Bear Week going, while a more permanent solution is negotiated for the massive federal budget. That resolution is now in the Senate for a vote. It contains no money to secure the border and no additional money for Ukraine’s defense against Russia.
The vote in the House occurred after Democrat Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York was seen on video and by witnesses pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon building to try to delay the vote.
It’s unclear if Bowman will be arrested by Capitol Police and charged with a felony, as this was obstructing an official proceeding of Congress, which is a federal crime. Creating a false fire alarm is also misdemeanor in the District of Columbia, punishable by up to six months in jail.
Although assigned to an office in the Cannon Building, Alaska’s Rep. Mary Peltola was not in danger as she is not at work this week.
Many Jan. 6, 2021 election protesters were indicted and convicted on charges of interfering with an official congressional proceeding when they entered the U.S. Senate chambers to protest the confirmation of the results of the 2020 presidential election. The so-called “Q-Anon Shaman” Jacob Anthony Angeli Chansley pleaded guilty to the felony of obstructing an official proceeding of Congress simply by entering the House Chambers and was sentenced to more than 41 months in prison.
It will be a much-watched Capitol drama to see if Rep. Bowman is given the same treatment as the Jan. 6 protesters that he has had many harsh words for on his X/Twitter feed.
“Rep. Jamaal Bowman pulled a fire alarm in Cannon this morning. An investigation into why it was pulled is underway,” said House Administration Committee Chairman Bryan Steil. An evacuation was forced as Democrats tried to buy more time to consider a resolution to continue paying for government.
The alarm could be heard by those in the nearby Longworth Building, sources say.
Bowman’s spokesperson later said the congressman did not know that the alarm would go off. Bowman, however, has a Ph.D. in education, spent many years as a middle-school teacher and principal and would certainly understand the role of fire alarms in upending the functions of an institution.
Earlier in the day, Bowman was on a news show, during which he said, “Republicans don’t want to help our children. They aren’t working to end child poverty, stop gun violence, or address climate change. That’s why we need to vote the right people into office to address these issues.”
Bowman in 2022 authored the “COUP Act to establish a national commission to investigate the [Jan. 6, 2021] insurrection, keep the Capitol safe from more breaches, hold members of Congress who condoned Jan. 6. accountable.”