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Congressman sets off fire alarm ahead of vote

GreenWatch Desk World News 2023-10-01, 2:59pm

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An investigation has been launched after a congressman in the US House of Representatives triggered a fire alarm as his party was trying to delay a crucial budget vote on Saturday.

Jamaal Bowman, a New York Democrat, says it was an accident.

But his opponents have accused him of trying to disrupt the vote designed to avoid a US federal government shutdown.

The alarm prompted an hour-long evacuation. A deal was eventually agreed to avoid the shutdown.

The alarm went off as Democrats were attempting to delay the vote as they sought more time to read the bill and decide whether to support it.
"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. I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door," Mr Bowman said in a statement.
He added that he was not "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."
But Republicans have accused him of deliberately attempting to sabotage the vote.
Brian Steil, a Republican Wisconsin representative and chair of the House administration committee, announced that an investigation was under way.
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called it a "new low".
"I was really appalled watching Democrats' actions today, to delay it, to get a shutdown," he said.

He then compared the incident to those charged with crimes in connection with the US Capitol riot on 6 January 2021.

"We watched how people have been treated if they've done something wrong in this Capitol. It would be interesting to see how he is treated and what he was trying to obstruct when it came to the American public."

The bill keeps the government funded until 17 November. President Joe Biden signed it into law minutes before the midnight deadline.

The proposal was put forward by Mr McCarthy as he fought off a rebellion by hard-liners in his own party.

If Congress had failed to keep the government open, the closures would have delayed salaries for millions of federal employees and military personnel, reports BBC.