House Passes Cruz-Welch Bipartisan Bill Targeting Deadly Street Drug Tranq

December 5, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan bill combatting a deadly street drug from U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) is headed to the President’s desk.

The senators praised yesterday’s House passage of the Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality (TRANQ) Research Act. The Cruz-Welch legislation directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to take steps to enhance understanding of the dangerous animal tranquilizer xylazine, or tranq, and other novel synthetic drugs; develop new tests for detection; and establish partnerships with front-line entities that are often the first points of contact with new street drugs. This legislation previously passed the Senate with unanimous support in June.

Following passage of the TRANQ Research Act, Sen. Cruz said:

“Our common sense, bipartisan legislation will help law enforcement better detect a deadly drug that is destroying lives in my home state of Texas. 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.”

Sen. Welch added:

“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. 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.”

The Texas Municipal Police Association has previously said about the bill:

“The drug epidemic is not just a Texas problem – it’s a national problem. As new drugs find their way onto the street, law enforcement must have the tools at their disposal to address the latest crisis. Senator Ted Cruz’s TRANQ Act would provide us with the resources we need to combat the distribution of tranq, and save the lives of vulnerable Texans.”


Xylazine, which has been nicknamed “tranq,” is a powerful sedative used by veterinarians. Although the tranquilizer is often combined with other drugs like fentanyl and Xanax, it is not an opioid, and so it cannot be reversed with Narcan. Its use has spread across the country, including in Texas and Vermont.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports skyrocketing detections of xylazine, with growth between 2020 and 2021 of 198% in the South, 112% in the West, 61% in the Northeast, and 7% in the Midwest. According to the DEA, “the presence of xylazine in illicit drug combinations and its detection in fatal overdoses may be more widespread than reported as a number of jurisdictions across the country may not include xylazine in forensic laboratory or toxicology testing.” Tranq, also known as the “zombie drug” has gruesome side effects, causing large wounds that will not heal, and is resistant to standard opioid overdose treatments.

Texas law enforcement officials have recently detected this drug in illicit fentanyl supplies, and it has led to several deaths in the state.

Rep. Mike Collins (R-Ga.) and Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Colo.) introduced the bipartisan companion legislation (H.R. 1734) to the TRANQ Research Act in the House of Representatives.

On April 12, the Office of National Drug Control Policy declared fentanyl-adulterated or -associated xylazine an “emerging threat” to the country, the first time in history a substance formally received this declaration.