Representative whose fire alarm disrupted legislation for averting a government shutdown charged with misdemeanor


Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman was charged Wednesday with a misdemeanor for triggering a fire alarm as lawmakers scrambled to pass a funding bill before a government shutdown deadline in September.

He is expected to plead guilty, formally apologize and pay a $1,000 fine. The alarm prompted an evacuation of a House office building. It reopened an hour later after Capitol Police determined it was not a threat.

The New York lawmaker has acknowledged pulling the alarm, telling reporters within hours that it was a mistake. He said he was rushing to get to votes and trying to get through a door that is usually open but was closed due to it being a weekend.

At the time of the evacuation, House Democrats were working to delay a vote on a funding bill to keep federal agencies open. They had said they needed time to review a bill that Republicans abruptly released to avoid a shutdown.

Bowman was “treated like anyone else who violates the law” and has agreed to pay the maximum fine, a spokesperson for the District of Columbia attorney general’s office said.

Bowman told police he didn’t mean to pull the alarm or disrupt any congressional proceeding, according to court documents. He said he didn’t immediately tell anyone about the alarm going off because he was in a hurry to vote.

Under an agreement with the D.C. attorney general, the charge will be withdrawn in three months if the congressman provides a formal apology to Capitol police and pays a $1,000 fine.

“I’m thankful for the quick resolution from the District of Columbia Attorney General’s office on this issue and grateful that the United States Capitol Police General Counsel’s office agreed I did not obstruct nor intend to obstruct any House vote or proceedings,” Bowman said in an emailed statement. “I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped.”

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