A Democratic congressman admitted a misdemeanor charge of deliberately setting off a fire alarm at the US Capitol complex that forced the evacuation of an office building ahead of a crucial vote.
Jamaal Bowman appeared in DC Superior Court on Wednesday, where he agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and write an apology to police in return for the charges being withdrawn in three months, according to court documents and a statement from the New York lawmaker.
Bowman, 47, said he was rushing from his office to make the September 30 vote on a funding bill aimed at averting a government shutdown and pulled the alarm in an attempt open a door he couldn’t get through.
That caused Cannon House office block near the main Capitol building to be evacuated for an hour.
Republicans say the former school principle, who was captured on camera, was seeking to stall the vote and introduced a censure motion Wednesday to remove him from his committee assignments.
“Rep. Bowman’s excuse does not pass the sniff test,” House administration committee chairman Bryan Steil said in a statement.
“After pulling the fire alarm, Rep. Bowman fled the scene, passed by multiple Capitol Police officers and had every opportunity to alert USCP of his mistake.”
Bowman, a combative progressive who is unafraid to have public rows with his opponents in the halls of Congress, has become a favorite sparring partner for Republicans.
He said in a statement that he was grateful that police “agreed I did not obstruct nor intend to obstruct any House vote or proceedings.”
“I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped,” he said.
The House approved the 45-day stop-gap funding bill — with a yes vote from Bowman — shortly after the drama came to an end.