The dysfunction in Washington reached an even higher peak on Saturday, as a New York congressman pulled a fire alarm while Democrats were trying to stall a short-term funding bill.
Democratic representative Jamaal Bowman was the person responsible for the alarm. The Committee on House Administration, which is helmed by Republican lawmakers, said “an investigation into why it was pulled is underway.”
A spokesperson for Bowman offered an inscrutable explanation for the incident in a statement to Axios reporter Andrew Solender: “Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote. The Congressman regrets any confusion.”
Bowman, for his part, reportedly framed the situation as an accident, saying, “I thought the alarm would open the door.”
Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries declined to weigh in. “Until I see the video, I have no further comment,” he said.
The 45-day spending resolution passed on Saturday afternoon. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy assailed Bowman in a press conference soon after. “I think [the Office of Congressional Ethics] should look at this, but this is serious,” he said, invoking rioters who were charged after storming the Capitol in 2021 in an attempt to “change the course of what was happening in this building.”
“This should not go without punishment,” McCarthy added. “This is an embarrassment.”
Prior to Saturday’s vote, hard-line members of McCarthy’s party were angling to force him out of the speakership—pressure that is likely to continue. Some Democrats had also initially signaled their skepticism to the bill and demanded to give it a thorough read.
“It was just dropped upon us at the 11th hour, and our members are of the view that nothing that Republicans have said this year is trustworthy. Nothing,” Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said.
The stopgap bill now moves to the Senate for a vote. If it fails to pass, a shutdown is scheduled to begin just after midnight.