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. Tulsa

    Good on you Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, Madam Speaker.

    You will be remembered by thinking and feeling people in this country as doing a great service.

    March 23, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  2. Paul from Phoenix

    Another slap in the face of Hillary.

    March 23, 2010 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  3. longarmss

    Talk about waste. not only was the health bill a big error. The goverment can't even buy a pen that work long enought for one to sign there name. crap he had to use 22 pens to sign his name. How much time and moeny is wasted on this? Yea yea al ot will say it just a few dollars. well a few dollars here and there for the goverment adds up to billions of wasted money. Buy a nice bic pen for .(( cents and he can sign all the bills for four years and sign a very other things.

    Like how much money is wasted to have the two people raise the U S flag up the poll and back down only to seel them to say it flew over the white house. wasted money. Just load a few million flags on a jumbo jet and fly over the white house. Then flew over the white house. That what the paper say when you pay big bucks for that flag.

    More goverment waste.

    March 23, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. Jerry

    Obama's health care plan will be written by a committee whose head says he doesn't understand it,

    passed by a Congress that hasn't read it,

    signed by a president who smokes,

    funded by a treasury chief who did not pay his taxes,

    overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and

    financed by a country that is nearly broke.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    March 23, 2010 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Liberalism is a Mental Disorder

    I know what they can do with those pens!

    I am so sick and tired of everything that this man does as being "historic"....it was historic to the press the first night he took a dump in the whitehouse....stop with the over use words like Historic, Monumental, first time, unprecendented, blah, blah...let me make myself clear, not everything BHO does is historic...knock it off with the rhetoric!

    March 23, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Now the venom-spitters (Tea Baggers) are bound to say that he bought off Sister Carol Keehan for the price of a Bic. And that she in turn sold off the immortal souls of countless babies for a pen from the "Messiah". You know how good these folks are at putting a spin on things. God bless their little spitting hearts.

    March 23, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. Enough

    And it's filled with RED ink, cause that's what this bill is going to due, bankrupt the country and be in the red just like Social Security and Medicare, which by the way anyone with a job pays into!

    March 23, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  8. Willy Brown

    If this bill is so good Mr. Obama then why do we have to wait 4 years to get covered?

    March 23, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. Monster Zero

    Instead of ink, the pens were filled with the blood of Americas middle class that will foot the bill for just one more entitlement program.

    March 23, 2010 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. Jeff

    Cool story. Thanks Mr. President.

    March 23, 2010 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  11. FINALLY

    He should have gave one to Bill Clinton and Marcellus.

    March 23, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  12. SLM

    22 Pens, another waste of tax payer dollars.

    March 23, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  13. Jill, California

    Always a nice gesture. I do hope that a pen was given to the young boy standing next to him in memory and honor of his mother.

    March 23, 2010 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. phyllis

    I for one tax payer, am happy we have something to work with, all the people who don't want health care reform, must be happy with the high cost of health care, if they can afford it more power to them, but to those who can't, this is what we need, so all of you hate mongers, of our President, BITE ME!!!!!!! THANK YOU.

    March 23, 2010 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Mack-FL

    No pen for Marcelas Owens for his bravery in facing the Nation, telling his story to Congress, and keeping his cool in the face of all the ugly ADULT Teabaggers who criticized him, made fun of him, and disgraced the memory of the boy's dead mother (from lack of health insurance)??

    He deserved one.....and more than some of those Congressional members that got one.

    March 23, 2010 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  16. mike

    Quite appropriate that Mrs. Kennedy got one!

    March 23, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  17. Mirta

    I would like to know about those people currently employed for companies with ....say...150 employees. It will be cheaper for the company to pay the fine (on 120 because the first 30 are exempt) and dump their employees into the exchange. If you make over $88K, you will get NO subsidy. The way I have this figured out, my husband and I will pay well over 10K annually for insurance and I am sure the quailty of the insurance will be much worse than we have now. This is what we get for educating ourselves, paying our student loans and working hard...I would encourage everyone to sit back and let the government take care of you....there is not reason to educate yourself and work....you don't have to anymore! I am all in favor to eliminate caps, mandate coverage for pre-exsisting conditions, etc, but, the way this bill was passed was reprehensible. I consider myself and Independent and will vote to oust all of them this fall!!

    March 23, 2010 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  18. Jim from Seattle

    I'm sure if Bill and/or Hilary were in the room, they would have received pens. It's ridiculous for the author of this article to have framed the ommission as if it was an intentional slight.

    March 23, 2010 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. THE TRUTH

    UHHH so when are my premiums going down?
    when are the employers going to change insurance and give people raises in their wages?20?? can you tell us that barry boi because you can sure tell us when our taxes for this beast is going to start feeding it?

    nice job though and we thought the winter gave us a snow job i cant remember bush lying as much as you have you egotistical arrogant numbskull joe wilson was right you are a LIAR

    March 23, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. T'SAH from Virginia

    I want a PEN!!!!

    March 23, 2010 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. all the news that's fit to omit

    He couldn't give one to the little prop standing right next to him?

    My bad, he has already outlived his usefullness, see that bus little prop, go jump under it.

    Barry, while your running around still selling this LIE, how about looking into your own "number one priority", uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh J O B S that little nasty three letter word (per Joe "F bomb" Biden?

    See you in November you gutless coward.

    March 23, 2010 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  22. GJ

    A pen for Durbin but not Schumer? Blasphemy! I guess we know who will be the next Majority Leader..

    March 23, 2010 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Duck Fallas

    Wall Street reacts to health insurance reform- How's that Hopey Changey thing doing to the Dow?

    March 23, 2010 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. Enough is Enough

    They are all filled with red ink.

    March 23, 2010 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  25. Jesse

    22 Pens????? It takes 22 pens to sign a bill into law. Accountability???? I'm sure the're not BIC pens either.

    22 pens to sign a bill into law – $2200 tax payer dollars

    10 states suing the federal government for bad law – $1.4 million tax payer dollars

    Health Care reform in the U.S. – Priceless, because the people who are in office won't be there in 2014 when the law becomes active.

    March 23, 2010 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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