The law was a top priority of the drug industry, which spent $106 million lobbying Congress from 2014 to 2016. Mr. Marino, who received nearly $100,000 in campaign contributions from political action committees representing the industry, according to The Post, was one of the leaders in pushing the bill. Congress passed it with many legislators unaware of its real effect, and President Barack Obama signed it into law, also unaware of its import, according to former administration officials cited by The Post.
Some Democrats called on Mr. Trump to respond after the report. Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, a state that has been ravaged by opioid abuse, sent a letter to the president urging him to withdraw Mr. Marino’s nomination.
“His advocacy for this legislation demonstrates that Congressman Marino either does not fully understand the scope and devastation of this epidemic or ties to industry overrode those concerns,” Mr. Manchin wrote. “Either option leaves him unfit to serve as the head of the” drug office.
Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said she was introducing legislation to repeal the law that Mr. Marino helped pass. “Media reports indicate that this law has significantly affected the government’s ability to crack down on opioid distributors that are failing to meet their obligations and endangering our communities,” Ms. McCaskill said.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly promised to tackle the opioid crisis and appointed a high-level commission led by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey that delivered a report last summer. Although the president said in August that he would declare the epidemic a national emergency, he has yet to do so. In his news conference on Monday, he said he planned to do it next week.
“We’re going to have a major announcement, probably next week, on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem, and I want to get that absolutely right,” he said. “This country, and frankly the world, has a drug problem. The world has a drug problem. But we have it, and we’re going to do something about it.”
Mr. Trump said that he saw the report on the drug industry’s role in passing the legislation and expressed concern about it. “As far as Tom Marino, so he was a very early supporter of mine — the great state of Pennsylvania,” Mr. Trump said. “He’s a great guy. I did see the report. We’re going to look into the report. We’re going to take it very seriously.”