White House

Trump says Rep. Tom Marino withdraws from consideration as drug czar following uproar over his role in opioid legislation

Key Points
  • Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., is withdrawing from consideration as the next U.S. drug czar, President Trump tweets.
  • On Sunday, an investigation outlined his role in pushing for a law that hurt the DEA's ability to fight the opioid crisis.
Rep. Tom Marino withdraws from consideration as drug czar

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said Rep. Tom Marino withdrew from consideration for the nation's drug czar, following an investigation that detailed his role in pushing for a law that weakened DEA enforcement during a growing opioid crisis.

Trump: Rep.Tom Marino has informed me that he is withdrawing his name from consideration as drug czar. Tom is a fine man and a great Congressman!

A Washington Post and CBS investigation published Sunday described Marino as the "chief advocate" for a drug industry-friendly law that hobbled Drug Enforcement Administration efforts to fight the distribution of prescription narcotics. President Barack Obama signed the bill into law in April 2016.

On Monday, Trump had said he would "make a change" if he felt Marino's nomination hurt his efforts to curb opioid abuse. Trump had tapped Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican and supporter of the president, to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Lawmakers like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., had called for Trump to pull Marino's nomination following the report.

Manchin, whose state has been hit heavily by the opioid crisis, said in a letter to Trump that Marino's support for the law shows he "either does not fully understand the scope and devastation of this epidemic or ties to the industry overrode those concerns."

In a statement on the Senate floor Monday, Schumer said picking Marino for the position "is like putting the wolf in charge of the hen house."

A spokesman for Marino did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.

More than 33,000 people died in 2015 from prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Post report said the law championed by Marino "makes it virtually impossible" for the DEA to freeze suspect narcotic shipments from drug companies. The agency previously had the power to do so and prevent suspicious shipments from reaching the streets, according to the newspaper.

Many members of Congress and the White House did not truly know what the bill would do, said the Post, whose joint expose with CBS was aired on Sunday's "60 Minutes."