WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called for Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., to be punished after he pulled a fire alarm in a Capitol office building Saturday, comparing the incident to the Jan. 6 riot at the building.
McCarthy, R-Calif., cited "how other people were treated when they come in and wanted to change the course of what was happening in the building."
He said the Ethics Committee should take the pulled fire alarm "seriously."
"This should not go without punishment," McCarthy said. “I’m going to have a discussion with the Democratic leader about it. But this should not go without punishment. This is an embarrassment.”
Bowman said later in a statement that the action was unintentional.
"Today, as I was rushing to make a vote, I came to a door that is usually open for votes but today would not open," he said Saturday night. "I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused.
"But I want to be very clear, this was not me, in any way, trying to delay any vote. It was the exact opposite — I was trying urgently to get to a vote, which I ultimately did and joined my colleagues in a bipartisan effort to keep our government open," he added.
A screen grab of security video was distributed to officers so they could find the person who pulled the alarm, a person familiar with the matter said.
Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., said he has not yet seen the video.
“Until I see the video, I have no further comment," he said when he was asked.
U.S. Capitol Police are investigating, according to a statement that did not mention Bowman by name, and the House Administration Committee is conducting a probe, as well.
"Rep. Jamal Bowman pulled a fire alarm in Cannon this morning," an account controlled by the Republicans on the committee wrote on X, the website formerly known as Twitter, in a post that spelled Bowman's first name incorrectly. "An investigation into why it was pulled is underway."
Committee Chairman Bryan Steil, R-Wis., signed the post.
Fellow Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York, a Republican, said on X that she will introduce a resolution to expel Bowman from the House over the incident. "This is the United States Congress, not a New York City high school. This action warrants expulsion & I’m introducing a resolution to do just that," she wrote.
The alarm sounded in the Cannon office building, which is connected to the Capitol by an underground tunnel, as the Republicans were trying to begin a vote on a 45-day spending measure to keep the government open.
"Today at 12:05 p.m., a fire alarm was activated on the 2nd floor of the Cannon House Office Building," a Capitol Police spokesperson said in the statement. "The building was evacuated while USCP officers checked the building. The building was reopened after it was determined that there was not a threat. An investigation into what happened and why continues."
Democrats appeared to try to delay starting the vote, which they had been given very little notice about. Many complained that Republicans were trying to vote before Democrats had time to read the bill.
Jeffries delivered a 52-minute speech in what was seen as an effort to give his fellow members and their staffs time to figure out whether his party would support the bill.
Ultimately, the vote began 2½ hours after it was scheduled to start. And Democrats overwhelmingly voted in favor of the bill.