On the Hill

House passes bipartisan amendment to block use of Gaza health ministry data

Sixty-two Democrats voted for the amendment, while a handful supported amendments to fire Iran envoy Rob Malley and block the administration’s NSM-20 arms sales memorandum

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WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: The stars and stripes flag flying at the Capitol Building, Washington, USA.

On a bipartisan basis, the House voted on Thursday for an amendment to the 2025 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill that would block the State Department from citing statistics provided by the Hamas-controlled Gaza Ministry of Health.

A handful of Democrats also voted for amendments to effectively fire Iran envoy Rob Malley, who remains suspended and under investigation, and bar the State Department from implementing the administration’s policy adding new conditions on foreign arms sales.

Gaza health ministry data, particularly casualty data, has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months, amid growing allegations that the data is not credible or reliable; the United Nations has stopped utilizing portions of that data in its own statistics.

The administration has provided conflicting responses on whether it believes and utilizes that data, saying at times that it does not consider the statistics reliable while also continuing to cite the data

The amendment that would bar the State Department from citing that data passed the House by a 269-133 vote. Sixty-two Democrats joined 207 Republicans in voting for the amendment, while 142 Democrats and two Republicans voted against it.

Mostly moderate Democrats voted for the amendment, including Reps. Colin Allred (D-TX), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), who are running for Senate seats, as did Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), who is running for governor.

None of the top three Democratic House leaders voted for the amendment, although No. 4 House Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and former Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) supported it.

On the GOP side, Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Matt Rosendale (R-MT) voted no.

Separately, 11 Democrats — Reps. Allred, Yadira Caraveo (D-CO), Angie Craig (D-MN), Don Davis (D-NC), Jared Golden (D-ME), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Josh Harder (D-CA), Kathy Manning (D-NC), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-WA) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) — voted with every Republican in favor of an amendment that would ban the State Department from paying a salary to Malley or rehiring or reinstating him.

Malley has been suspended for more than a year and is reportedly under FBI investigation for allegedly mishandling classified information.

Nine Democrats voted with Republicans to pass an amendment that would bar the administration from implementing National Security Memorandum 20, the administration directive placing additional conditions on U.S. arms sales globally, which was primarily driven by progressive criticisms of Israel’s operations in Gaza. That amendment passed 207-195.

The memorandum produced a report criticizing Israel’s conduct in Gaza while also finding no grounds to halt U.S. arms sales.

The Democratic supporters include Reps. Craig, Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Golden, Gottheimer, Perez, Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY).

Republican Reps. Mike Turner (R-OH) and Brandon Williams (D-NY) voted no. 

An amendment blocking State Department funding from being used to operate the aid pier in Gaza passed 208-200, with Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) — who has been critical of Israeli operations in Gaza — being the only Democratic “yes” vote.

Garamendi supported the amendment “because he believes that there are better, more cost-effective ways to get humanitarian aid into Gaza,” spokesperson Tessa Browne told Jewish Insider in a statement. “He is extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and believes that the money could be better spent on direct humanitarian aid to residents, such as re-opening land-based ports of entry for convoys carrying humanitarian aid (as called for by President Biden). “

Israel has reopened several land ports of entry in recent months and both U.S. and Israeli officials say that significant amounts of aid are moving into the enclave, with distribution and security now the primary issue.

The House resoundingly rejected amendments blocking funding for military sales to Ukraine by a 350-61 vote, for Ukraine generally by a 342-70 vote, for the US.-Ukraine security agreement by a 334-76 vote, for the U.S. Agency for International Development by a 331-81 vote and for the Lebanese Armed Forces by a 308-103 vote.

It also voted 203-182 against an amendment blocking funding for the U.N. not specifically authorized by Congress, and 259-149 against an amendment prohibiting any U.S. contributions to the U.N. or its agencies. An amendment to bar both direct and indirect taxpayer funding to the Assad regime in Syria passed 247-154.

In a separate debate on the Defense Appropriations bill, the House voted 355-76 against another amendment seeking to block funding for Ukraine.

It’s not clear which, if any, of these amendments will survive conference negotiations with the Senate and ultimately make it into law.

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