Updated Dec 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Jamaal Bowman censured for Capitol Hill alarm incident

Rep. Jamaal Bowman. Photo: Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images.

The House on Thursday voted to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) for pulling a Capitol Hill fire alarm in September.

Why it matters: It's the second time in a month the Republican-controlled House has taken the rare symbolic step of censuring a member. Both were Democrats.

  • Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) was censured last month for her criticism of Israel and her defense of a controversial pro-Palestinian chant, which 22 Democrats voted for.

Driving the news: The House voted 214-191 to pass the resolution. Five members voted "present."

  • Three Democrats voted with Republicans to censure Bowman: Reps. Jahana Hayes (Conn.), Chris Pappas (N.H.) and Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez (Wash.).

Details: The resolution, introduced by GOP Conference Secretary Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), condemns Bowman for pulling a fire alarm ahead of a pivotal vote on legislation to keep the government funded in September.

  • "Representative Bowman forced the evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building and disrupted the work of the Congress as a vote was underway on the floor of the House," it says.
  • Bowman has pleaded guilty to one local criminal charge of causing a false alarm for the incident and said he was simply trying to open an emergency door to make his way to House votes.

What they're saying: Pappas told Axios in a statement that he voted for an earlier motion to table the censure measure "because we have far more pressing issues to tackle for the country."

  • But "at the end of the day, Representative Bowman broke the law," Pappas said.
  • "The resolution was a straightforward condemnation of his actions, and I voted yes," he added.

The other side: Shouts of "shame" rang out from the Democratic side as the vote ended, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) yelling: "You've got to fund the government."

  • "All they do is vacate the chair, expulsions, censures, reprimands, impeachments," said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). "There is no positive agenda for America."

The big picture: The House has taken multiple censure, expulsion and impeachment votes this year as lawmakers in both parties have taken advantage of their ability to force such votes without leadership support.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with quotes from Reps. Ocasio-Cortez, Raskin and Pappas.

Go deeper