A “do-nothing” Congress? So far.

Halfway through the 113th Congress legislators passed fewer bills in 2013 than in any other year — approving only 58 that were signed into law by President Barack Obama. Even so, the House and Senate debated and voted on important legislation with implications for public health.

APHA annual congressional record

Support for public health during the first session of the 113th Congress is measured in APHA’s annual public health voting record, published today in the February 2014 issue of The Nation’s Health.

In its annual public health voting record, APHA examined hundreds of individual votes on important measures affecting public health and selecting key votes during the first session of the current Congress.

Health legislation considered by the U.S. Senate included in this year’s congressional record focused on issues such as violence against women, funding for health reform, gun violence prevention, funding for nutrition programs and tracking of pharmaceuticals.

APHA assessed public health votes in the House of Representatives including action on emergency preparedness, repealing health reform, clean air regulations and a ban on abortions.

While the voting record can be helpful in assessing a member of Congress’s support for public health, APHA cautions that “readers should not base their judgment of a member’s performance solely on this report.” Other factors are sometimes at play that aren’t measured in the record. For instance, members of Congress can demonstrate leadership on an issue that isn’t captured by a vote, or they can sponsor a bill that doesn’t come up for a floor vote or is passed by voice vote or unanimous consent.

APHA’s 2013 public health voting record was published today in the February 2014 issue of The Nation’s Health newspaper and is available to APHA members online.

Graphic courtesy iStockphoto

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