Obama Signs ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Bill With Autopen

Jan 3, 2013 12:53am
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Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

HONOLULU, Hawaii — President Obama has signed the “fiscal cliff” legislation into law via autopen from Hawaii, where he is vacationing with his family.

The bill to avert the “fiscal cliff” arrived at the White House late this afternoon and it was immediately processed, according to a senior White House official. A copy was delivered to the president in Hawaii for review. He then directed the bill to be signed by autopen back in Washington, D.C.

The Bush administration deemed in 2005 that the use of the autopen is constitutional, although President George W. Bush never used the mechanical device to replicate his signature on a bill.

The office of legal counsel found at the time that Article 1, Section 7 of the Constitution allows the president to use the autopen to sign legislation, stating “the President need not personally perform the physical act of affixing his signature to a bill to sign it.”

Obama has used the autopen twice in the past to sign legislation, both times while he was overseas.

Use of the autopen has been controversial.  Conservative groups alleged last summer that Obama used an autopen to sign condolence letters to the families of Navy SEALs killed in a Chinook crash in Afghanistan — a charge the White House disputed flatly as false.

In 2004, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was criticized for using an autopen to sign condolence letters to the families of fallen troops.

And in 1992 then-Vice President Dan Quayle even got into some hot water over his use of the autopen on official correspondence during an appearance on “This Week with David Brinkley.”

Obama, who arrived back in Hawaii early Wednesday morning to continue his family vacation, spent the afternoon golfing with friends at the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay.

Obama is slated to remain in Hawaii through Saturday.

ABC News’ Jonathan Karl contributed to this report

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