Press Release

Welch’s Bipartisan Bill to Combat Deadly Drug Tranq Headed to President Biden’s Desk

Dec 5, 2023

Bill Passed with Bipartisan Support, Will be Signed Into Law by President Biden Soon

WASHINGTON, D.C.Senator Peter Welch’s (D-Vt.) bipartisan bill, the Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act, passed the United States House of Representatives this week with unanimous support. The bill was passed by the Senate in June and will soon be signed into law by President Biden.  

The bipartisan Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act, co-led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) takes steps to address the deadly rise in illicit use of Xylazine, or Tranq – a harmful animal tranquilizer – and other novel synthetic drugs that have become increasingly common in the illicit drug supply in Vermont and across the country. The bill directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to research the drug, develop new tests for rapid detection, and establish partnerships with the frontline entities that are often the first points of contact with new street drugs. The TRANQ Research Act was sponsored in the House by Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) and Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Colo.). 

“In my first week as Vermont’s new Senator, I came home to talk about the opioid and drug epidemic, and it couldn’t have been more clear: the drug supply in Vermont has changed and it’s making an already brutal overdose crisis even more challenging to combat. Our communities needed federal resources to deal with Xylazine, and they needed it now. So, we got to work–and we did it in a bipartisan way,” said Sen. Welch. “I look forward to President Biden signing the TRANQ Research Act into law, and I thank Senator Cruz and Representatives Collins and Caraveo for their partnership. This bill is a step in the right direction, and it will help us get the resources where they’re needed most–to those on the frontlines and the folks who need testing and detection tools.”  

“Our common sense, bipartisan legislation will help law enforcement better detect a deadly drug that is destroying lives in my home state of Texas,” said Sen. Cruz. “I am grateful to Senator Welch for working with me to help give the frontlines of the Tranq drug crisis access to reliable data and research, and I look forward to our Cruz-Welch legislation being swiftly signed into law.” 

Xylazine, an animal tranquilizer, has spread rapidly throughout the country’s illicit drug supply, often combined with fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) found skyrocketing detection rates of Xylazine in the Northeast region of the U.S. between 2020 and 2021, including a 61% increase, even with the limited testing available. Many jurisdictions have limited testing available for Xylazine detection.  

In Vermont, Xylazine was reported present in 50% of opioid-related accidental and undetermined deaths in August of 2023. With overdose deaths increasing for the third consecutive year in the state, Vermont’s community of recovery professionals need additional support and resources to understand, treat, and prevent the use of fentanyl, Xylazine, and other dangerous illicit drugs. The Burlington Free Press put the spotlight on Tranq and Sen. Welch’s bill in their September 2023 piece: ‘It came out of nowhere’: Xylazine makes Vermont street drugs more dangerous and deadly.