Volume 59, Issue 1

Policy Essay Law Labor Reform at a Critical Juncture: The Case for the Protecting the Right to Organize Act By Representative Andy Levin & Colton Puckett Articles Strengthening the Federal Approach to Educational Equity During the Pandemic By Kimberly Jenkins Robinson Sunsets are for Suckers: An Experimental Test of Sunset Clauses By Kri…

Reconceptualizing Congressional Decision-making Around Well-being: A Health in All Policies Approach

Congressman TJ Cox, Dr. Kathy Murphy, & Rebecca Kahn


Protecting and promoting the public’s health is one of the most important roles of government. The preamble of the United States Constitution states that our government’s role is to “secure the blessings of Liberty” and “insure domestic Tranquility” through the establishment of “Justice,” a “common defense,” and through the “promot[ion] of general Welfare” for ourselves and future generations.1 U.S. CONST. pmbl. Article I of the Constitution establishes the legislative branch of the federal government—the Congress—which has the purpose of enacting laws in service of this preamble.2 U.S. CONST. art. I.

Unfortunately, public health or human well-being is not formally considered in the congressional lawmaking process, much less given primacy. Instead, a potential law’s effect on the federal budget is the only scored consideration in the annual legislative budget process.3 MEGAN S. LYNCH, CONG. RSCH. SERV., 98-721, INTRODUCTION TO THE FEDERAL BUDGET PROCESS 14–15 (2012). Since the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, the requirement of a cost estimate in the form of a Congressional Budget Office (“CBO”) score for most legislative proposals has oriented the lawmaking process towards economic considerations, first and foremost.4Frequently Asked Questions About CBO Cost Estimates, CONG. BUDGET OFF., https://www.cbo.gov/about/products/ce-faq [https://perma.cc/J6FD-MAEV]. While this is a critical function, as Robert Kennedy stated in 1968, “the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children . . . [it] measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”5Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Remarks at the University of Kansas (Mar. 18, 1968), https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/about-jfk/the-kennedy-family/robert-f-kennedy/robert-f-kennedy-speeches/remarks-at-the-university-of-kansas-march-18-1968 [https://perma.cc/B2FV-9EJ2].

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