Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman on Tuesday condemned a document sent out by his own office to his party’s colleagues that said there were “Nazi members” of the opposing Republican Party.
The document featured talking points Democratic lawmakers were advised to use to explain why Bowman triggered a fire alarm Saturday in one of the US Capitol office buildings as lawmakers scrambled to pass a bill to fund the government before the midnight shutdown deadline.
The New York lawmaker told reporters hours later that it was a mistake and that he was rushing to get to votes through a door that is usually open but was closed due to it being a weekend. Republicans slammed Bowman for the incident, and some suggested drafting a motion to censure him or expel him from the House.
“I believe Congressman Bowman when he says this was an accident. Republicans need to instead focus their energy on the Nazi members of their party before anything else,” one of the suggested talking points read.
Bowman later called out the “inappropriate use of the term Nazi without my consent,” in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“I condemn the use of the term Nazi out of its precise definition. It is important to specify the term Nazi to refer to members of the Nazi party & neo-Nazis,” he wrote.
????????NEW — Capitol Police are circulating this photo of a man pulling the fire alarm in Cannon. Looks a lot like Jamaal Bowman pic.twitter.com/khzpigSvWI
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) September 30, 2023
Bowman is contacting his Democratic colleagues to inform them he did not OK the document, an unnamed source with knowledge of the conversations told Politico.
The fire alarm sounded out around noon in the Cannon House Office Building and prompted a building-wide evacuation at a time when the House was in session and staffers were working in the building. The building was reopened an hour later after Capitol Police determined it was not a threat.
The GOP-controlled House Administration Committee, which oversees issues pertaining to the Capitol complex, posted a picture of a person pulling the fire alarm who appeared to be Bowman.
Capitol Police have launched an investigation into the incident.
At the time of the evacuation, House Democrats were working to delay a vote on a 45-day funding bill to keep federal agencies open. They said they needed time to review the 71-page bill that Republicans abruptly released to avoid a shutdown.
The funding package was ultimately approved 335-91 on Saturday afternoon, with most Republicans and almost all Democrats — including Bowman — supporting the bill.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy criticized Bowman over the fire alarm, saying the incident “should not go without punishment.”
“This is an embarrassment,” he told reporters.
He added that he plans to talk with the Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York to figure out a possible response.
But Jeffries met with Bowman shortly after the vote and Bowman said his fellow New York colleague was “supportive.”
“He understood that it was a mistake and that’s all it was,” he said. Bowman added that the reaction from McCarthy and other Republicans is dishonest.
“[McCarthy’s] trying to weaponize a mistake of me coming, rushing to get to a vote as something nefarious when it wasn’t,” he said.