Biden Ribs Roberts, Obama Announces Changes

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THE WHITE HOUSE — Joe Biden hasn’t lost his step. Just moments ago, at the Old Executive Office Building, it came time for the vice president to issue the oath of office for the senior staff. Biden had to stop the proceeding to ask for a copy of the oath. “My memory is not as good as Justice Roberts’,” he joked. There was laughter around the room.  (This was a reference to Roberts’ flubbing the presidential oath yesterday.)

Moments earlier, Obama addressed the crowd of more than 50 staffers. “Let me just say how proud I am of all of you,” he said. “What a moment we are in.”

The president announced a number of new initiatives. He will freeze the salaries of anyone making more than $100,000 in the White House. (Top staffers, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, now make $172,200 a year.)

He announced that staff in his administration who registered to lobby at any point over the last two years will not be able to work in the subject areas where they lobbied. Furthermore, staffers who leave the administration will not be able to lobby their former colleagues in government as long as Obama remains president. Obama also announced a change in the guidance for officials who review Freedom of Information Act requests to encourage the release of more information. “Transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” Obama said.