These 3 House Democrats voted with Republicans to censure Jamaal Bowman for pulling a fire alarm on Capitol Hill

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  • The House voted to censure Rep. Jamaal Bowman for pulling a Capitol Hill fire alarm.

  • The congressman has claimed it was an accident and has already paid a $1,000 fine.

  • Most House Democrats argued that the resolution was frivolous, but three ended up voting for it.

The House voted on Thursday to censure Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York for pulling a fire alarm on Capitol Hill over two months ago.

Three House Democrats joined Republicans to vote for the resolution. The final tally was 214-191, with 5 lawmakers — mostly Democratic members of the House Ethics Committee — voting present.

Bowman is now the 27th House member in American history to face censure. It's the third time a Democratic member of Congress has been censured this year, following the censures of Rep. Adam Schiff of California in June and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan in November.

And most Democrats, similar to when Schiff was censured over Republican complaints of his handling of the Trump-Russia investigation, argued that the effort was illegitimate and rallied around him ahead of the vote.

"Extreme MAGA Republicans are continuing to try to weaponize the censure, as is being done on this floor right now, going after Democrats repeatedly week, after week, after week, because you have nothing better to do," said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries in a floor speech on Wednesday evening. "Then I volunteer. Censure me next. That's how worthless your effort is."

The fire alarm incident

On September 30, as the House was preparing to vote on a bill to avert a government shutdown, Bowman pulled a fire alarm in an office building adjacent to the Capitol.

He has claimed the incident was an accident, that he misinterpreted the signage on the door besides the alarm, and that he thought pulling the alarm would allow him to open the door. Video of the incident was later obtained by NY1.

Republicans have accused Bowman of intentionally pulling the alarm in order to buy more time for Democrats to review the government funding bill. At the time, party leaders were scouring the legislation to ensure that there weren't any "poison pills" hidden within it.

In October, Bowman pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of falsely pulling a fire alarm and paid a $1,000 fine.

"When I tried to exit a door that I usually go through, it didn't open, and due to confusion, in a rush to go vote, I pulled the fire alarm," Bowman said on the House floor on Wednesday.

The censure resolution, sponsored by Republican Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan, does not make specific arguments about Bowman's intent in pulling the alarm and does not formally accuse him of seeking to disrupt a congressional proceeding, as some Republicans have.

Instead, it simply notes the incident, Bowman's guilty plea, and the fact that his actions "disrupted the work of the Congress."

Censure doesn't mean what it used to

Under Republican control, the House has seen an increase in the use of censure to punish lawmakers, driven by a newly reinstated mechanism that allows any individual lawmaker to force such a vote.

The most recent lawmaker to be censured before this Congress was Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who posted an anime video that depicted him killing Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. That censure vote was bipartisan.

Democratic Reps. Chris Pappas, Jahana Hayes, and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez all voted to censure Bowman.
Democratic Reps. Chris Pappas, Jahana Hayes, and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez all voted to censure Bowman.Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

More recently, Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan was censured in a bipartisan fashion for her statements on Israel, including the use of the pro-Palestinian slogan "from the river to the sea."

As history shows, the bar for censure was pretty low in the beginning.

The first lawmaker to be censured by the House, Rep. William Stanberry, incurred that punishment because he said during a floor debate that the speaker of the House's "eyes were "too frequently turned from the chair you occupy toward the White House."

In more recent decades, censure was reserved for more grave offenses, such as public corruption and sexual misconduct.

That standard has unraveled in recent years, leading to more and more party-line censures that carry little legitimacy beyond the party that proposes it.

Here are the three Democrats who voted to censure Bowman:

  • Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut

  • Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington.

  • Rep. Chris Pappas of New Hampshire

All three are considered politically vulnerable in 2024, and Gluesenkamp Perez and Pappas in particular occasionally vote with Republicans.

And here are the five lawmakers who voted present:

  • Democratic Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania

  • Democratic Rep. Glenn Ivey of Maryland

  • Democratic Rep. Deborah Ross of North Carolina

  • Democratic Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania

  • Republican Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland

Read the original article on Business Insider