Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10) called for greater clarity from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on the appropriate standards to trigger opioid distribution immediate suspension orders (ISOs) and echoed calls from witnesses at a hearing for more effective actions to combat the opioid crisis.
Marino noted the frustrations expressed by members of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at the testimony of Demetra Ashley, Acting Assistant Administrator of the DEA’s Diversion Control Division, that the agencies favored a change from the current “substantial likelihood of an immediate threat” standard to trigger ISOs, but could not articulate what that change should be. Ashley also commented multiple times that the agency has used “foreseeable risk” for years in investigations.
The “substantial likelihood” standard was instituted, after negating with the agencies, in the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, authored by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and passed unanimously by both Houses of Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. Congressman Marino observed Ms. Ashley’s expression of the DEA’s current preference for the “foreseeable risk” standard in the initial version of the Act he had introduced in the House.
“I share the frustrations of my Senate colleagues over the shifting and unclear positions of the DOJ and DEA on the appropriate standard for immediate suspension orders,” stated Congressman Marino. “That’s especially true given the near-unanimous agreement of witnesses at the hearing on the need to balance enforcement and access for pain patients and the fact that the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act has not hampered the agencies’ effectiveness in any way.”
“I agree with the Senators who called for DOJ and DEA to provide clear suggestions on the standard for ISOs, and believe that if a change is needed, the ‘foreseeable risk’ standard would be a reasonable starting place. At the same time, the agencies should heed the suggestions of witnesses to pursue more effective actions to clear out the bad actors fueling the opioid crisis, especially better data-sharing to spur collaboration between law enforcement agencies and distributors.”Read More
Washington, D.C.—Today, the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing titled “Oversight of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act.”
Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10) submitted the following statement for the record:
Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein and other esteemed Members of the Committee, thank you for offering me the opportunity to submit a statement for the record today on my legislation, the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act.
As this Committee is aware, I was nominated to be the next Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, or ONDCP. Following an expose by the Washington Post and a report on 60 Minutes, I withdrew my nomination so that I would not be a distraction to this Administration in the fight against the opioid epidemic. I am here today to correct the record on these reports filled with flat out untruths and false statements.
One particular detail that 60 Minutes failed to inform their audience of is that their star source, Joe Rannazzisi, is currently working as a trial lawyer actively pursuing lawsuits against drug distributors. At the bare minimum this shows a severe conflict of interest and a disturbing bias.
In 2012 I visited with pharmacies in my district where I learned that it was becoming difficult for legitimate patients to access needed medication. I directed my staff to do some research on the issue and find out more regarding the supply chain. I wanted to learn more about why the opioid problem was worsening and yet individuals suffering with pain were unable to access medications.
One problem I identified was that the term “imminent danger” was not defined in the Controlled Substances Act. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in 2015 also issued a report stating that there needed to be more clarity regarding DEA authorities. Utilizing this vague, undefined language the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Diversion Control overzealously utilized suspension orders and ran roughshod over the will of Congress and Justice Department leaders.
In particular, the leader of the Diversion Control Office, Joe Rannazzisi, had shown a particular cavalier disregard for the rule of law. In a public setting, when asked specifically what the Controlled Substances Act term “imminent danger to the public health and safety” meant, his response was “whatever I think it means.” I found this to be a completely irresponsible and unreasonable answer.
In response to these concerns, in the 113th Congress I introduced the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act. This legislation for the first time aimed to define “imminent danger to public health and safety,” similar to other laws like the Mine Safety Act, where the term is well defined.
Following introduction, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held hearings, the Energy and Commerce Committee reported the bill by voice vote to the House of Representatives, and it was passed by the House of Representatives by voice vote.
In the 114th Congress I again introduced this legislation. The Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing, it was reported favorably to the House of Representatives, and passed the House of Representatives by a voice vote.
In the 114th Congress, Senators Hatch and Whitehouse introduced their version of the legislation. The bill was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, passed the Senate by unanimous consent, passed the House by unanimous consent, and was signed into law by President Obama.
My legislation defined “imminent danger to the public health or safety” as a “foreseeable risk of serious adverse health consequences or death,” which would have had little impact on DEA enforcement. In the Senate version, which became law, this language was changed to a “substantial likelihood of an immediate threat that death, serious bodily harm, or abuse of a controlled substance will occur,” a much higher burden. This change was made at the request of the DOJ.
Throughout the entire process my office and Senator Hatch’s office worked closely with the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency to find acceptable language. When the legislation was finalized in the Senate, both the DOJ and the DEA had signed off on the final language. After the legislation was passed, there was no objection by the White House or any Agency and the bill was signed into law.
Senators Manchin and McCaskill have come forward and attacked my motives and integrity following the media reports. Either Senator had plenty of opportunity to provide input or stop this legislation when it was going through the regular legislative process, neither said a word. Instead, they voted in favor of this legislation.
Before becoming a Congressman for the 10th District of Pennsylvania I served as a prosecutor for 18 years, first as a District Attorney for Lycoming County and then as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. I worked tirelessly to prosecute drug dealers and producers, putting them behind bars and preventing them from destroying lives. I worked closely with community and local leaders to start drug treatment and prevention programs. I have dedicated my life to protecting Americans from the scourge of illegal drugs. I have been involved with and supported law enforcement throughout my life. I would never introduce or support legislation that would make it easier for dangerous drugs to proliferate.
In an October 25 hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Mr. Neil Doherty, the Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Diversion Control for the DEA, testified regarding this law. In his testimony, Mr. Doherty stated that between 2011 and 2016, prior to passage of my legislation, the number of immediate suspension orders reduced substantially. Following passage of my legislation, immediate suspension orders have actually increased and the quantity of opioids distributed has decreased. He went on to say that the data doesn’t show that this legislation fueled the opioid epidemic and that the DEA recommended to President Obama that he sign this legislation into law.
Since so far all we have heard from the media is a disgruntled former DEA official with a vested interest pushing his narrative, I look forward to hearing what the current DEA and DOJ have to say regarding this legislation and the effect on their ability to execute their mission. The data shows that there has been no impact and if anything the DEA has been able to issue more immediate suspension orders while having more legal clarity.Read More
Washington, D.C.—Yesterday, Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10), introduced H.R. 4540, legislation requiring the repayment of taxpayer dollars used in sexual harassment settlements against a Member of Congress, including interest. The bill would also:
This legislation is a companion bill to H.R. 4458, introduced last week by Congressman Marino prohibiting the use of taxpayer funds in sexual harassment settlements against a Member of Congress.
Congressman Marino said the following regarding the introduction of the bill:
“Congressmen and Senators should not be allowed to play by a different set of rules and held to a different set of standards than the American public. Sexual Harassment in the workplace is unacceptable by anyone and taxpayers should not be on the hook for the actions of others.
My legislation will bring transparency and accountability to the secretive process used when a victim settles a sexual harassment claim against a Member of Congress. By listing publicly past and future settlements, along with the identity of the Member of Congress who committed the act of sexual harassment, the American people can see and judge for themselves.
My bill also protects the victim’s identity while releasing them from any nondisclosure agreement signed along with a settlement, allowing them to come forward if they choose. Going forward, nondisclosure agreements are prohibited as a requirement of receiving a settlement. This legislation, along with H.R. 4458, will bring much-needed transparency and taxpayer accountability to a broken process.”Read More
Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10) and Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) introduced H.R. 4493, Eric’s Law, named in honor of fallen Bureau of Prisons Correctional Officer Eric Williams.
On February 25, 2013, Bureau of Prisons Correctional Officer Eric Williams was viciously murdered by an inmate at United States Penitentiary Canaan in Wayne County, PA. The inmate was jailed at USP Canaan serving an 11-year sentence for his role in gang-related drug trafficking in Arizona. The inmate had also been convicted in Arizona for the murder of a rival gang member and was scheduled to serve a life sentence following his incarceration at Canaan.
In the trial for Eric’s killer, there was no dispute of guilt with the defense stating that he was guilty “beyond all reasonable doubt.” The jury deliberated for 5 hours and returned a split decision, with 11 jurors in favor of the death penalty and 1 juror voting for life in prison. One juror flatly stated during deliberations that they would not vote for the death penalty, stating that she had a son in prison and that she felt bad for the defendant’s mother. This resulted in an automatic sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole. Since the defendant was already scheduled to serve life in prison, there essentially was no consequence for the brutal murder of Eric.
Eric’s Law provides a fix for this miscarriage of justice by allowing an attorney for the government to motion the court to impanel a new jury for the penalty phase only. Allowing a second jury to have another look during the penalty phase will provide the prosecutor an additional tool if the facts show that the jury system did not work as intended. If the facts of the case truly do show that life in prison is the appropriate sentence, then the second jury is able to impose that sentence. This approach is modeled after several states that already use such a procedure in death penalty cases, such as California, Arizona and Kentucky.
Congressman Marino said the following regarding the introduction of the bill:
“It is an injustice that a man serving a life sentence was able to take Eric’s life and have no consequences for their actions. The American jury system is supposed to work where everyone deliberates and considers the facts of the case. Here a juror simply crossed her arms and said no. In cases like this where there the jury system doesn’t operate as intended and the facts show that the crime is especially heinous, there should be an opportunity for another jury to try and come to a unanimous decision.”
Congressman Barletta said the following:
“My heart remains heavy for the family and friends of Officer Eric Williams. Knocked down a flight of stairs, and viciously stabbed more than 200 times with a homemade shank, the brutality of Officer Williams’ murder has weighed heavily on our community for years. I was disappointed and shocked to learn that the murderer was let off under the same penalty he was already serving when he committed this atrocity. Despite the gruesome nature of the crime, admittance of guilt, and overwhelming opinion by the jury, one juror felt they should derail justice. It is an unconscionable miscarriage of justice to the victims of violent crime. Eric served the community he loved and his life was taken in the line of duty. Eric’s Law will ensure future families of victims will not see the murderer of their loved ones avoid justice.”Read More
Washington, D.C. - Today, Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10), introduced H.R. 4458, legislation to ensure that taxpayer funds cannot be used to pay settlements resulting from sexual harassment by a Member of Congress. The bill also requires that the Ethics Committee consider the expulsion of a Congressman or Senator if they commit an act of sexual harassment.
Congressman Marino said the following regarding the introduction of this bill:
“Any form of sexual harassment in the workplace in completely unacceptable and Members of Congress should not be held to a different standard. As more information comes out regarding the secretive process for harassment complaints, it is clear that major changes need to be made.
It is unconscionable that Congressman and Senators have taxpayers foot the bill for their disgusting actions. My bill also requires the Ethics Committee to consider expulsion for any Member of Congress who commits an act of sexual harassment. There must be a serious review to determine whether someone is fit to serve in Congress based on the allegations.
My legislation takes a small, but important step, by ensuring that no taxpayer money can be used to settle harassment claims. This is a serious problem, and Congress must act.”
Washington, D.C –Today, Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10) voted in favor of H.R.1, the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 227-205.
This bill overhauls our nation’s tax code for the first time in 31 years by reducing the number of tax brackets, nearly doubling the standard deduction for individuals and couples, and providing tax relief at all income levels. This legislation maintains popular aspects of the tax code such as the mortgage interest deduction, the deduction for charitable contributions, and popular retirement savings options such as 401(k)s and Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). It also allows homeowners to write off the cost of state and local property taxes up to $10,000, expands the Child Tax Credit to $1,600, up from $1,000, and streamlines higher education benefits to help families better afford college and education. Importantly, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act closes special-interest loopholes and eliminates deductions largely used only by high-income earners.
The corporate tax rate is reduced from $35%, the highest rate in the industrialized world, to 20%. This will allow US businesses to be more competitive globally and incentivize companies to bring jobs and higher wages to the US. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will deliver much-needed tax relief and fuel economic growth and bigger paychecks for generations to come.
Congressman Marino issued the following statement on the passage of the legislation:
“The tax system in this country is too complex, too burdensome, and has stalled our nation’s prosperity and wage growth. We need to get our economy moving again to maximize job creation by making America the most desirable country in the world for businesses to invest and thrive. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act makes our tax code more fair and honest for hard-working middle-class families who today are struggling to keep up with rising costs.”Read More
Washington D.C. - Congressman Tom Marino (PA-10) issued the following statement after President Donald Trump announced the opioid crisis is a national public health emergency:
“The abuse of opioids has descended well beyond a crisis. It is a sustained epidemic. This is a true emergency and the President’s decision to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency is a powerful step in the right direction. Decisive action like this will further enable all the available resources at the federal government’s disposal to be mobilized and optimized to best serve each community’s unique needs. That means allowing more flexibility in allocating prevention efforts, law enforcement, addiction treatments and recovery programs.
“The president’s actions not only strengthen legislation like the Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act, a measure I supported and which was signed into law last year, but also forces a greater sense of urgency to more aggressively work to reverse this epidemic.
“There is still much more work to be done in terms of implementing solutions, but this declaration paves the way for expanded coordination, at all levels, and ensures that we are able to effectively manage all the complexities and nuances that come with addressing this issue.”Read More
ICYMI: Rep. Marino Op-Ed: Truth is the Key to Solving the Opioid Crisis
October 25, 2017
““What is truth?” was Pontius Pilate’s famous question to Jesus. In our nation’s capital and the media, the answer seems to be “whatever the Washington Post says it is.”
“Recently, an epic 7,800-word piece in the Post claimed that legislation I co-sponsored – and which passed both houses of Congress unanimously and was signed by President Barack Obama with the approval of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) – represented a “victory” for opioid drug manufacturers.
“Far from being the nefarious result of industry actions, the legislation originated with my own interactions with constituents. In 2012, I met with a community pharmacist having so much trouble obtaining prescription opioids that he had to turn away legitimate pain patients. When I directed my staff to research what was happening in the supply chain, they found that disrupted access to needed medications was indeed systematic."
Effectiveness in any public health initiative is about optimally directing resources and getting parties to engage collaboratively. It’s not about pursuing personal crusades at the whim of a single bureaucrat – while potentially interrupting needed medications to veterans, hospice patients and those with chronic conditions for whom opioids can be the difference between a bearable existence and utter agony.
“For my part, I’m going to keep the focus on the action agenda I have pursued over recent years and would have advanced as ONDCP director: to delve into the complexities of the opioid crisis, identify effective uses of resources, and build collaboration.
“In short, in contrast to media sensationalism, when it comes to the opioid crisis, I’m going to keep trying to find the truth – in the hope of designing the best policies to set millions of troubled Americans free.”
To read more, click here.Read More
ICYMI: Implausible Rep. Tom Marino led a Bipartisan Conspiracy to Worsen Drug Addiction Crisis
Bipartisan Drug Cartel?
The Wall Street Journal
The Editorial Board
October 24, 2017
“Perhaps you’ve heard that President Trump’s drug office nominee colluded with pharmaceutical companies to worsen the opioid crisis, based on a press dispatch this month. The resulting panic could result in reversing a useful law, so allow us to fill in the real story of this grand non-conspiracy that included 535 Members of Congress and Barack Obama.
“Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino recently withdrew his name to run the Office of National Drug Control Policy. A Washington Post and “60 Minutes” investigation implied that a bill Mr. Marino sponsored choked off the Drug Enforcement Administration’s authority to go after illegal shipments of prescription drugs. The narrative drums along that Mr. Marino was a shill for the pharmaceutical lobby. Members of Congress are now calling to repeal the law that passed both chambers unanimously and Mr. Obama signed last year.
“To understand what’s going on here, zero in on former DEA official Joe Rannazzisi, the star source for “60 Minutes” and the Washington Post. Mr. Rannazzisi, the story notes, now consults for lawyers suing the opioid industry. Where there is pain and suffering, there are trial lawyers looking to make a buck. And the plaintiffs bar is using state lawsuits to turn opioids into the next tobacco. “Opioids: The Next Tobacco?” ran a trial lawyer seminar in Washington last month, as the American Tort Reform Association has noted.
“But DEA also has authority to issue “immediate suspension orders” when there’s an “imminent danger to public health or safety,” and halt a company’s shipments without the hassle of a proceeding. The agency deployed this tool in 2012 against Cardinal Health ,which contested the suspension in court. The Controlled Substances Act for years didn’t clarify what represents “an imminent danger” to the public, so DEA could more or less issue suspensions as it deemed fit, as Utah’s Senator Orrin Hatch, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, explained last week.
“All of this matters because Congress may soon try to whoop through a repeal bill, and Democrats fresh off scuttling Mr. Marino will now indict every GOP Member of Congress as a drug dealer. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who is running for the Senate, co-sponsored a version of the bill and has since walked back her support, which is unfortunate. If anything, Congress ought to do more to restrict DEA actions that can blow up the supply chain and interfere with medical decision-making outside its jurisdiction.
“More broadly, note the cynicism of accusing one Republican of deepening a social crisis that had claimed tens of thousands of lives before Congress thought up this bill. The horrors of opioid addiction come from many dysfunctions, including too many prescriptions; a decline in work; heroin and fentanyl; easy access from Medicaid; and others. The story that a Member of Congress led a bipartisan conspiracy to worsen drug addiction is as false as it is implausible.”
To read more, click here.
Washington, D.C.— Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA-10) issued the following statement after requesting that President Donald Trump withdraw his name from consideration to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP):
“Today I informed President Donald Trump of my intent to withdraw my name from any further consideration to lead ONDCP.
“As a former prosecutor who has dedicated my life to aggressive and faithful enforcement of our laws, I have reached the difficult decision that the best course of action is to remove the distraction my nomination has created to the utterly vital mission of this premier agency.
“At the same time, given my lifelong devotion to law enforcement, I insist on correcting the record regarding the false accusations and unfair reporting to which I have been subjected.
“I’m proud of my work on the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016, which passed with unanimous consent in the House and Senate, unopposed by the DEA and was signed into law by President Obama. This landmark legislation will help to facilitate a balanced solution for ensuring those who genuinely needed access to certain medications were able to do so, while also empowering the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to enforce the law and prevent the sale and abuse of prescription drugs.
“Given these facts and the importance of this legislation, I find it sad and disheartening that the news media have left behind any concept of balanced reporting and credited conspiracy theories from individuals seeking to avert blame from their own failures to address the opioid crisis that proliferated during their tenure. Specifically, I cannot allow false allegations made by a former DEA employee, who resigned from the agency. He was the subject of a professional conduct investigation and his assertions may be motivated by financial self-interest, to overshadow the real problems with prescription drug abuse in this country.
“I will continue to support President Trump in his mission to get the people’s government back to working in their best interests – not those who seek to maintain the status quo.
“I look forward to remaining in service to the people of Pennsylvania’s Tenth Congressional District and continuing my long record of championing solutions to better equip law enforcement to combat drugs.”Read More
410 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Tom Marino came to Congress in January 2011 in much the same way he arrived at other destinations throughout this life: with a sense of purpose, a clear set of goals, and a common-sense approach to finding solution to serious problems.
Though he had previously talked about running for Congress, it wasn’t until he found himself so frustrated by the direction the nation was taking that he declared himself a candidate in early 2010.
He emerged the victor of a three-man Republican primary race and went on to defeat two-term Democrat incumbent Chris Carney by 10 percentage points in November 2010.
With his two children at his side, he was sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives on January 5, 2011, becoming part of the largest freshman class in decades.
Tom was re-elected to serve a second term in 2012, receiving 66 percent of the vote in the general election.
Marino maintained his standing on three House committees – Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, and the Judiciary – and six subcommittees, two of which he serves as Vice Chairman.
The assignments are a good fit for the attorney who gained a reputation as a tough prosecutor, first as Lycoming County District Attorney and then as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
But when Congressman Marino tells working people that he knows where they are coming from, he means it.
That’s because he is never far from his blue-collar roots and the middle-class Williamsport neighborhood home where his mother still lives.
Tom, one of four children to Vivian Marino and the late Joseph Marino, is a second-generation Italian-American. His father was a janitor and a fireman and his mother was a homemaker.
Tom married his high school sweetheart, Edie, and went to work in the manufacturing field. It wasn’t until he was passed over for a promotion that he realized the importance of a college education.
So, at 30 years old, Tom sold his truck and Edie worked full time as he enrolled in college. Tom earned his bachelor’s and law degrees in five years, attending the former Williamsport Area Community College, Lycoming College and Dickinson School of Law.
He practiced law for several years before being elected to two terms as District Attorney for Lycoming County. He later served as U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, where his name became synonymous with cracking down on organized crime and drug trafficking. He was the first U.S. Attorney to attend the Top Gun PA X training classes and completed a National Security Seminar at the U.S. Army War College at the Carlisle Barracks.
Tom returned to work as a private-practice attorney for two years before deciding to run for Congress.
Tom and Edie have two adopted children, Chloe and Victor, and live in Cogan Station, Lycoming County.
A three-time cancer survivor, Tom is active in community events and enjoys reading, motorcycle riding, weightlifting, running, and spending time with his family.
Besides his committee work, Tom is involved with a number of congressional caucuses, and serves as Co-Chairman of the Cystic Fibrosis Caucus, Congressional Kidney Caucus, and the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth.
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I urge my colleagues in the House to join us in safeguarding the health of Americans with kidney disease.https://t.co/M1QsiUe209
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This Kidney disease bill is a step in the right direction to better understand this disease and find a cure. https://t.co/tNFlHROi0l
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We must continue to help our foster care system thrive. #ShadowDay