March 23rd, 2010
03:04 PM ET
5 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. Felonious Monk

    I am proud of America! Have always been proud of America, even more now that "We the People" have taken our country back from these political sellouts.

    Way to go America.

    March 23, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Hughes

    How many of us will think that the symbolic gesture of giving away Pens to the Senators is recognition of their work done and when not given suggests something to the contrary? I donot think the former President and the Secretary of State are miffed that they did not get the Pens! If they are, perhaps Obama will surrender his to them!

    March 23, 2010 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. terry,va.

    He should have used crayons. Go back to high school and get some business training Obummie.

    March 23, 2010 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. Greg Pottstown PA

    This is the worst thing he has done yet. Now the only way he gets reelected is if he grants amnesty to illegals. By illegals I mean criminals.

    March 23, 2010 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. Kevin in Ohio

    How touching.

    The vast majority of this country will suffer under higher taxes and bigger government. If you are a small businessman, you are considered one of the "wealthy" by the progressives. I'm trying to figure out what your incentive will be to keep on going, much less maintaining and hiring new employees.

    March 23, 2010 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. Greg in PA

    Yep pens that will forever be known as the pens that turned us into socialists.....and a third world country.........don't look now but that is China sneeking up on us and they want their money back!

    March 23, 2010 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Stacie

    I hope the little guy got one too. He's tooooo cute!

    March 23, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. rachel

    Kind of funny that he trashed Hillarys mandate during the campaign and then used and didnt even give her a pen.

    March 23, 2010 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Susan, AZ

    one pen should go to Limbaugh, Palin and Beck each, if they can write themselves (not ghostly)

    March 23, 2010 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. Marcus Tate

    Yuck it up now – none of you Democrats will be laughing come November.

    March 23, 2010 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. Jim

    I especially appreciate that Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Assn., received an historic pen. The nuns got it right, but the US Catholic bishops (who opposed healthcare reform to the very end) did not!

    March 23, 2010 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. gary a proud canadian

    henry you are an idiot.Always trying to create a story rather than just reporting what happened.A list of who did not get a pen, are you kidding?I think that list consists of a few billion people you idiot.

    March 23, 2010 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. KD

    Let me get this straight......we're trying to pass a health care plan written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it, to be signed by a president who also hasn't read it and who smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, all to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke.
    What could possibly go wrong????

    March 23, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    He sure fooled all of you by saying that jobs and the economy were his priority didn't he. He could care less. He doesn't care about honest, hardworking tax payers. He has his legacy now. Dirty and tarnished, dishonest & corrupt, but his legacy.

    March 23, 2010 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  15. bess

    not bad, based on conservative cost estimates of Obamacare that represents a mere $42million dollars per pen!

    March 23, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. No More Incumbents

    They got pens and the taxpayers got the shaft. There is no reform in this healthcare bill. Just a lot more of the special deals, inefficiencies and bigger government. We'll remember in November. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    March 23, 2010 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. Tristan Moody

    Out of curiosity - and a bit of nerdiness - he signed with 22 pens, but "Barack Hussein Obama" has only 18 letters. What of the other four pens?

    March 23, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Newuse

    Now they can use them to sign the chapter 7 proceedings as the country goes broke from their delusional legislation. Worst management in history.

    March 23, 2010 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  19. Marx

    Karl must have had these pens manufactured for this moment in history, he would have been so proud of this bunch.

    March 23, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  20. Lori

    What a Great Day for America.......but to listen to the Republicans they continue their lies and distort the truth.......they will do all they can to keep trying to put this Health Care Bill down........listen to Palin already.....she wants to give pink slips to all those who voted for this Bill......well Sarah Bimbo we gave you a PINK SLIP last November and you are the reason so much HATE has infected the Republican Party......so go back to where you came from and just shut up.......

    March 23, 2010 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Scooter 519

    Unfortunate the Repub,s saw fir to create a nation crisis over this. Scrapping like a bunch of 3 year olds over candy.

    March 23, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. Rickster

    Those pens will be nice souvenirs someday when people will say "This pen was once used by the third-world-raised dictator-wannabe who tried to shove socialist healthcare down the throats of Americans but, thankfully, the democrats were thrown out of office and into the trashheap of history in the following two elections and the country was saved".

    March 23, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. JES

    Mr. Rock Star still putting us deeper in debt thanks for nothing.

    2012 can't come fast enough.

    March 23, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  24. neon

    It would have been nice if Bill & Hillary got a pen as well, but their efforts weren't successful and you can't give pens to everyone or they would have less signifigance. For those who think President Obama will be ousted in 2012 I would say the early vote count is 32 million to none. God bless America and one of the best leaders we have ever had.

    March 23, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. frank

    Who care the pen. Why already sign in the law Then Why Mr. Obama still go on the road to sell the plan again?????? Everytimes he move out the White House cost so much Tax money. Specially he go over Sea more than any President including President Clinton, Bush

    March 23, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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