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US House votes to censure Democrat Jamaal Bowman over fire alarm incident

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US House votes to censure Democrat Jamaal Bowman over fire alarm incident
Reuters
Moira Warburton
December 07, 2023

By Moira Warburton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to censure Democratic Representative Jamaal Bowman for pulling a fire alarm while trying to use a locked exit in September as lawmakers prepared to vote on a measure to avert a government shutdown.

The motion was brought forward by Republican Representative Lisa McClain, and passed with a final tally of 214 to 191 with five voting present in the Republican-controlled House.

Bowman, who represents a district that includes suburbs just north of New York City, pulled a fire alarm in a House office building in late September while trying to get to a Saturday vote, according to security camera footage.

He said at the time that he thought the alarm would unlock the door, which is usually unlocked during the week when lawmakers are normally in session.

He pled guilty to a misdemeanor over the incident, after being charged by the D.C. attorney general.

"Actions must be met with consequences," McClain said in a social media post on Wednesday, adding that Bowman's actions were "unacceptable and against the law."

Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the top Democrat in the House, slammed the vote in a floor speech on Wednesday night, accusing Republicans of politicizing the censure mechanism.

"Censure me next," he said. "That's how worthless your censure effort is. It has no credibility, no integrity, no legitimacy."

Censuring in the House is a symbolic rebuke with no specific punishment. It is a relatively rare measure, but has been used with increasing frequency in recent years.

Democratic Representative Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in Congress, was censured last month over comments she made about Israel.

Democrats censured Republican Representative Paul Gosar in 2021 for posting an animated video that depicted his character murdering Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Republicans censured Democrat Adam Schiff in June for his work investigating former President Donald Trump while he was in power.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Washington; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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