WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Tom Marino, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the nation’s drug czar, is withdrawing from consideration following reports he played a key role in weakening the federal government’s authority to stop companies from distributing opioids.
Trump announced on Twitter Tuesday that the Republican Pennsylvania congressman “has informed me that he is withdrawing his name.” He praised Marino as “a fine man and a great congressman.”
Trump had raised the possibility Monday of withdrawing Marino’s nomination after reports by The Washington Post and CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said confirming Marino as the nation’s drug czar would be like “putting the wolf in charge of the henhouse.”
“The American people deserve someone totally committed to fighting the opioid crisis, not someone who has labored on behalf of the drug industry,” Schumer said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, whose home state of West Virginia has been among the hardest-hit by the opioid epidemic, said he was horrified at the accounts of the 2016 law and Marino’s role in it.
The Post reported Sunday that Marino and other members of Congress, along with the nation’s major drug distributors, prevailed upon the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Justice Department to agree to an industry-friendly law that undermined efforts to restrict the flow of pain pills that have led to tens of thousands of deaths. President Barack Obama signed the law in April 2016.
The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, including Marino, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns, the newspaper reported.