March 23rd, 2010
03:04 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama gives historic pens to Biden, Pelosi, Kennedy's widow

President Obama used 22 pens to sign the historic health care reform bill pushed by Democrats for the last year.
President Obama used 22 pens to sign the historic health care reform bill pushed by Democrats for the last year.

Washington (CNN) - President Obama used a total of 22 pens to sign the historic health care reform bill into law. To keep as mementos, the president handed all but three of the pens out to various luminaries like Vicki Kennedy, widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts.

Obama kept one pen for himself and is sending two others to the National Archives, according to White House aides. The White House initially said it was giving out 12 pens, but the number apparently grew as the list of people the president wanted to thank increased.

The other 19 pens went to Vice President Joe Biden; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, as well as other top lawmakers, administration officials and VIPs who helped get the historic legislation passed.

The list of who did not get pens is also worth noting: former President Bill Clinton, who helped make lobbying calls this past weekend, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who pushed reform unsuccessfully with her husband in 1993, both did not get the mementos.

And not everyone who got a pen decided to keep the keepsake. Reid spokesman Jim Manley told CNN that the Senate majority leader has already handed his off to his chief health care aide, Kate Leone.

In the House Democratic Caucus, pens were also doled out to: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland, House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman of California, and Rep. George Miller of California.

The president also tried to side-step a potential controversy by giving a pen to both New York Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel, who served as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee during most of the debate over health care reform, and to Michigan Democrat Rep. Sander Levin who recently took over as acting chairman of the powerful committee after an ethics scandal forced Rangel to temporarily give up the gavel.

Obama also gave a pen to Michigan Democrat Rep. John Dingell, the dean of the House who has been in office since 1955 and has long pushed for comprehensive health care reform. In an amazing bit of political trivia, a Dingell aide told CNN that the lawmaker also has a pen from President Lyndon Johnson's signing of Medicare into law.

Among the Senate Democrats, pens went to: Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois and key lawmakers Sens. Max Baucus of Montana, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, and Tom Harkin of Iowa.

Within the administration, pens went to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, White House health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, and congressional liaison Phil Schiliro.

A pen was also given to Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, who provided a pivotal endorsement of the legislation amid a controversy over whether it opened the door to federal taxpayer funding of abortion.


Filed under: Health care • President Obama
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. David

    Critics of health care reform, remember Medicaid. No one like it and now senior would fight if it was ever taken away. It is a part of our life or the norm now. The critics say it unconstitutional. Federal law mandates that every driver in every state have vehicle insurance. Might be stupid and some people still go uninsured even though the law of the land says otherwise. How is that any different? Stop the bickering and stop wasting money to fight a tsunami that is sure to drown you. The AG of the sates suing can not be very educated to pick this fight, that's because it's political for them. Forget the American people that struggle to get by without health care insurance. It is the HAVE against the HAVE NOT. I thinks it is time to change that thought process, there is no reason for anyone to go without anything in this day and age of history.

    March 23, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Obama the Socialist Liar

    the twelve pens that brought Sociaism to this once great nation.

    March 23, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. get real

    The President should push for education reform next. If you don't think we need it, read frank's post. Our education system clearly failed him.

    March 23, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. Chad from Tampa

    Who cares about pens? This bill will destroy our freedoms!

    March 23, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. Stacie

    George W Bush once used 20 pens. I bet y'all were complaining about that too, right? You will whine and complain about anything won't you? That must be one miserable life. I'm taking my happy self outside for a nice health walk in the park. Have a great day!

    March 23, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. Peggy

    Congratulations Mr. President! Well done! You kept your promise. I am so pleased. It's been a long time coming. Teddy is smiling – I know it! Blessings.

    March 23, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. EBC

    ALL you HATERS are in for a rude "awakening". YOU all yapped and hollered over medicaid and social security....and guess WHAT?

    Most of you are reaping the rewards of SAID BENEFITS!!! What a bunch of hypocrites.

    IF YOU DON'T WANT HEALTHCARE REFORM THEN DON'T BUY HEALTH INSURANCE BENEFITS!!!

    Don't complain, don't BASH the Democrats or the President. They are NOT FORCING YOU to get insured!!

    I'd like to see ALL the "haters" GIVE UP their health insurance benefits. Go ahead, give it up. YEAH, I thought so.

    TALK is CHEAP. EITHER PUT UP OR SHUT UP!!!

    It just that simple. Don't talk trash if you're NOT willing to put your money where your BIG MOUTH is.

    March 23, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  8. RCasson

    That little boy breaks my heart. Thank God President Obama is doing something to prevent other children from losing their parents!

    The pens are nice, but the law is nicer. God Bless President Obama!

    March 23, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. MsDp

    My initial thought was, it would be so nice if the GOP could join America and celebrate this wonderful emotional joyous moment; but, then I remembered – in order to do that, the GOP would have to have a heart:)

    March 23, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. Ralph

    All of you whining, "sky-is-falling" naysayers can suck it. The bill passed, it is law. F-you.

    March 23, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. Tim

    You Americans are idiots. This health care plan is the best thing that's happened to you, and all I see is complaining.

    March 23, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Lisa

    I love how the majority of conservative bloggers here are hung up on the alleged high cost of the pens.

    I guess when you can't wow them with brilliance, you must baffle with bulls**t!

    (Thank you, Mr. President! I, for one, am thrilled :)

    March 23, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Bed time for Raygun

    We have more pens coming for defeating the Corporate Fascist Pigs.

    March 23, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. ken from holland, pa

    come on there Frank. i am not even sure you are writing in english. please collect yourself and try and write properly. if that is how you speak and write, i am not sure you should be on here. you should be back in school. oh no Chad From Tampa. its socialism. get a grip there loser. its not socialism. you might need to look the term up in a dictionary and then hop back on here. if you look at the bill, it's more of a consumer bill of rights. not socialism. its amazing how easy it is to scare republicans. i thought you were the "tough guys"? i guess not. your ready to fight, but unfortunately, you can't have the poor fight for you. they are on the opposite side.

    March 23, 2010 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  15. XOXO Get Real

    Get Real - Thank you so much for the much needed laugh.

    March 23, 2010 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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