Pennsylvania congressman to be named drug czar by Trump

Rep. Tom Marino, R-Penn., official photo.

Congressman Marino's website

Pennsylvania Congressman Tom Marino is expected to step down from his seat to take on a new role in the Trump administration. Multiple sources tell CBS News that Marino will head up the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), assuming the informal title of drug czar.

A source familiar with personnel moves in the White House says that Marino is in the final stages of completing his paperwork and an official announcement is forthcoming. When asked for comment, the White House said it had no personnel announcements at this time. Marino’s office had no comment.

Marino, who is serving his third term representing Pennsylvania’s rural 10th congressional district, was appointed to serve on the House’s bipartisan committee combating the opioid epidemic in 2016 after the enactment of two bills he introduced on drug control.

The former prosecutor authored the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act to curb drug trafficking across borders and a more controversial drug enforcement bill that increases collaboration between prescription drug distributors and the Drug Enforcement Agency to combat drug abuse.

But critics argue that Marino’s bill, which President Obama quietly signed last spring, effectively curbs the DEA’s ability to prosecute corporate drug distributors who have profited from the opioid epidemic.

President Donald Trump recently tapped New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to chair a federal commission to combat opioid abuse, addiction and overdose. The commission will be overseen by the President’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and the ONDCP will provide administrative support for the commission, according to an executive order signed by Mr. Trump in March. Funding for the commission will also be provided by the funds appropriated to the ONDCP.

Former New Hampshire Congressman Frank Guinta was also under consideration to head the office in the role of drug czar.  Guinta has been praised for his commitment to combating the opioid epidemic while in office in New Hampshire, a state hit hard by the epidemic.

“My understanding is that Tom has a deep understanding of the issue and is excited to get started,” Kevin Sabet, a three-time ONDCP adviser, told CBS News of Marino.