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This is why Joe Biden uses so many different pens to sign executive orders



President Joe Biden signed a stack of executive orders on his first day. Notice the pen storage in front of him.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser / CNET

President Joe Biden wasted no time putting pen (s) to paper Wednesday’s inauguration. He has been signing of implementing decrees related to the Paris climate agreement, the coronavirus pandemic and Keystone XL pipeline. And he did so with a whole range of pens at his disposal.

While Biden used one pen for his first three orders on Wednesday, some viewers found himself reaching for a range of different pens as he signed. orders for the US pandemic response on Thursday. The pens then remained with the orders.

Why so many pens? It̵

7;s a tradition with a purpose.

The pens are essentially government souvenirs often given as gifts to commemorate the signing of orders or bills.

In a 2010 White House video, Lisa Brown, then White House staff secretary, said she was not sure when the tradition began, but that John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson used multiple pens to sign legislation during their tenure. It can go back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt or Harry Truman administration.

“The practice is that the president uses a number of pens and then gives the pens to people who have worked particularly hard on a bill, who sponsored the bill, who really fought for it, or to whom the bill means a lot,” said Brown.

Barack Obama famously used 22 pens in 2010 to affirm his name to the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. According to a government transcript of the signing event, he said, “I have to use every pen, so it takes a long time. I didn’t practice.” That meant using multiple pens for each of the letters in his name.

Biden had it relatively easy to use one pen per order on Thursdays, but things could get more complicated when it comes to signing large bills later. Maybe he wants to start practicing.


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