Tom Marino has just withdrawn his nomination to lead the National Office of Drug Control Policy with Trump announcing the withdrawal on Twitter. He tweeted earlier that Marino, a representative of Pennsylvania, was “a fine man and a great congressman.”
Marino’s withdrawal comes after he was reported to have sponsored a bill which made it difficult for the DEA to crack down on drug companies who made suspicious shipment of opioids. The bill, known as the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, was sponsored by Marino and passed into law in 2016. Critics argue that the bill makes it harder for federal enforcement officials to stem the flow of opioids which is considered to be a national crisis. Democrats had previously criticized Marino’s nomination on the basis of the report and threatened to block his nomination.
Marino’s withdrawal comes after Trump promised to make a major announcement on the subject next week, calling it “a massive problem” in an impromptu speech yesterday. Trump has promised to look into the report into Marino’s sponsoring of the bill and revealed that he planned to declare the opioid crisis as a national emergency.
Although Marino wouldn’t have control over the DEA in his role, he would have been responsible for the coordination and guidance of the many federal agencies and programs involved in the ‘War On Drugs’. He was widely tipped to become Trump’s top advisor in matters concerning drug policy and related issues.
Despite the controversy over Marino’s suitability for the role as ‘drug czar’, Trump was perhaps hoping that Marino’s appointment would be a significant first step in tackling the problem and would be useful to refer to his speech next week. Stymied over healthcare and with his tax reform bill facing difficulties, Trump hopes that tackling the problem of opioids will shore up his position and provide evidence of action within the administration.
However, many on both sides questioned the wisdom of appointing a man who helped stifle attempts to deal with irresponsible drug distributors and thus helped perpetuate the current crisis. Marino has received nearly $100,000 in donations from political action committees tied to the drug industry and his chief of staff became a lobbyist for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.
Marino was due to have a hearing in the Senate over concerns of his nominations but has instead chosen to withdraw his nomination over the report.