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APHA annual congressional record: How members of Congress supported public health.

AS part of the Association's continuing effort to inform its members on the nation's public health policies, APHA annually publishes a record of how members of Congress voted on particular issues of importance to public health.

The following pages contain tables of some of the most important public health votes cast in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate during the second session of the 115th Congress in 2018. The list was compiled by examining hundreds of individual votes and selecting key public health votes.

Readers are encouraged to examine the tables to see how members of Congress voted in relation to APHA positions and to discuss the votes with their legislators.

Voting records are one way APHA members can hold representatives and senators accountable for decisions made in the legislative process. Such records help show support for public health among members of Congress.

Voting record limitations

Special caveats must be made about any voting record. First, only votes on selected pieces of public health-related legislation are included in the record. Thus, the percentage columns, which are the first two columns in the tables, may not be complete reflections of the number of times a member voted consistently with an APHA position during those years. The columns depict only the percentage of times a member voted consistently with APHA's position on the legislation included in the record.

Second, the records do not demonstrate the number of responsible legislative proposals a legislator introduces; leadership in committees, where much important work is done; influence with other members; or contributions related to intensity of commitment to the issue or level of expertise.

Third, many members of Congress support bills that are never brought up for a vote. During the second session of the 115th Congress, APHA encouraged members to co-sponsor several important public health bills.

Fourth, some bills are passed by voice vote or unanimous consent in which the names or numbers of senators and representatives voting are not recorded. Therefore, judgment of a member's performance should not be based solely on this report.

Reading the report

The report is divided into sections for the House of Representatives and Senate. Each section begins with explanations of each vote, including a statement of the Association's stance. Also included in each section is a voting table number-keyed to the vote explanations, which notes how each member voted as well as APHA's position.

A plus sign represents a vote consistent with the APHA position and a minus sign represents a vote inconsistent with the APHA position. A plus or minus sign in parentheses stands for a vote that was made for procedural reasons and is not considered in calculating percentages.

An asterisk signifies a member who was not in office during the time of the vote--for instance, because she or he resigned, was newly elected or died--or was not in Congress the preceding year, and is not included in the member's percentage for 2018. "I" signifies that a member did not vote in that roll call, and is not included in the member's percentage for 2018. "P" represents a member who voted "present" and is not used in computing the member's percentage. "AL" stands for an at-large member of the House of Representatives. "S" designates a vote in which the speaker of the House did not participate.

The two percentage figures at the beginning of each legislator's line reflect how often the legislator agreed with APHA's position on the selected votes during either the second session of the 115th Congress--the 2018 column--or the first session of the 115th Congress--the 2017 column, reported in the February/March 2018 issue of The Nation's Health.

The 2018 percentage column is a tabulation of the information in the following columns and calculated solely for the convenience of readers. The percentage is based only on the votes for which a "yea" or "nay" was recorded.

The voting record is printed for the edification of APHA members.

Selection of votes

To select votes for this record, APHA staff reviewed roll call votes from the second session of the 115th Congress. Staff attempted to select a wide range of public health votes that would reflect the variety of public health interests of the Association.

The following criteria were used in the final selection of votes: importance to public health programs, the degree to which the vote involved issues of priority to APHA and the alignment of the issue with existing APHA policy statements.

To download a PDF copy of the congressional voting record, visit www. thenationshealth.org starting Feb. 4.

For more information on the voting record, contact Don Hoppert, APHA's director of government relations, at donald.hoppert@apha.org.
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Publication:The Nation's Health
Date:Feb 1, 2019
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