Rep. Jamaal Bowman Says He Was Confused By Signs Written At A 3rd Grade Reading Level

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Robert McGreevy Contributor
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Democratic New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who pulled a fire alarm prior to Saturday night’s House vote to avoid a government shutdown, said he did so out of confusion, thinking the fire alarm would open the door, according to a statement.

The door Bowman thought would open by triggering the fire alarm was plastered with bright red cautionary signs that read, “Emergency Exit Only” and “Push Until Alarm Sounds.”

Bowman’s press secretary, Emma Simon, said the signs confused him. “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,” she said, according to Axios’ Andrew Solender.

But the signs that perplexed Bowman were deemed to be readable at a third-grade level, according to readabilityformulas.com’s Automated Readability Index. (RELATED: Dem Rep Who Pulled Fire Alarm Before House Vote Previously Warned ‘Catastrophic’ Shutdown Would Put Lives At Risk)

“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,” Bowman, the founder and former principal of a public middle school in the Bronx, said in a statement. “I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused,” he continued. 

The vote he was rushing to make was on Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s continuing resolution to fund the federal government for another 45 days. 

Bowman voted for the bill, which notably excluded additional funding for Ukraine and ultimately passed the chamber 335-91. The bill later passed in the Senate and President Biden signed the bill into law shortly before the midnight deadline and close of fiscal year 2023.