Since returning to Washington, DC this week, President Obama has been busy meeting with advisers, making changes to the White House staff, and welcoming the new leaders in the House of Representatives. He also spent time on legislation, signing 35 bills into law in a single sitting.
Making the signatory process longer is the tradition of signing each bill using multiple pens. The president will start his signature with one pen and grab a new pen every couple of strokes, resulting in the use of sometimes as many as a dozen or more pens per signature. Why so many pens? The president gives the pens to people who worked exceptionally hard on getting the bill passed or to people for whom the bill has special meaning. President Obama used 22 pens to sign the Affordable Care Act in March of 2010. President Clinton used even more to sign the Taxpayer Relief Act in 1997 – 40 pens!
The new laws include:
1. The “Shark Conservation Act of 2010 and International Fisheries Agreement Clarification Act,” which generally prohibits the removal of shark fins at sea and amends certain laws related to international fisheries;
2. The “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act,” which modernizes the food safety system to better prevent food-borne illness and better respond to outbreaks;
3. The “Local Community Radio Act of 2010,” which modifies current restrictions on low-power FM radio stations;
4. The “Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010,” which amends the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and other educational assistance programs for veterans;
5. The “Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Act of 2010,” which amends financing and project operation requirements for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s program to allow for increased housing opportunities for low-income seniors;