A U.S. congressman, Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), pulled a fire alarm inside the Capitol building this weekend just before the House was set to vote on a spending bill in hopes of avoiding a government shutdown. Capitol Police released a photo that appears to show Bowman pulling the lever, which triggered the building alarm and led to an evacuation. Bowman’s office stated that he did not realize that pulling the lever would set off the alarm and expressed regret for any confusion caused.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy condemned Bowman’s actions, stating that he was appalled that Democrats would resort to such tactics, accusing them of trying to force a government freeze. Republicans criticized the incident as unpatriotic. A tweet from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene showed a video of the fire alarm going off in the Cannon building.
Despite the interruption caused by the alarm, the House vote eventually resumed, and a bill proposed by House Republicans received enough votes to pass. The bill will now be sent to the Senate, where it must be voted on before midnight to prevent a government shutdown.
The bill, a bipartisan 45-day stopgap measure, includes disaster relief funding but does not provide extra funding for Ukraine, which Democrats had sought. The bill has garnered criticism from Republicans who argue that it fails to address important issues such as the situation in Ukraine.
The White House has stated that the House bill should be sufficient for now, but they expect McCarthy to bring a separate bill relating to the Ukraine issue shortly. It remains to be seen whether McCarthy will follow through on this promise.
If the Senate fails to pass the House’s bill, a government shutdown will occur until Congress reconvenes on Monday. A prolonged shutdown would have negative implications for federal workers and the economy as a whole.