President Joe Biden visited North Carolina Thursday pitching the America Competes Act in the battleground state he narrowly lost in 2020.
Biden's address followed a tour of the university’s Harold L. Martin Sr. Engineering Research and Innovation Complex.
Biden highlighted provisions of the act key to retaining and strengthening the United States’ innovation and manufacturing capacity, as well as investing in STEM education and equity.
He said the act was important to help the U.S. compete in a global economy.
"America used to be ranked No. 1 in the world in investing in the future. Now we're ranked No. 9 on research and development," Biden said. "Other countries are closing in fast. We can and we must change that."
The House and Senate have been working on separate versions of the bill.
The America Competes Act, the Senate’s version of the bill, passed last month by a 68-28 margin, garnering the support of 18 Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Much of the bill is aimed at research and development as an attempt to quell reported shortages of semiconductors.
North Carolina’s two Republican senators split their vote, with Sen. Rich Burr voting against while Sen. Thom Tillis voted in favor.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the America Competes Act allocates at least $335 billion over the 2022-2031 period, mainly for provisions that involve research and manufacturing in the United States.
The bill also provides funding for wireless supply chain innovation and authorizes various programs and policies related to space exploration. Notably, the bill also prohibits federal funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology and imposes sanctions on China for cybersecurity and human rights abuses.
The legislation now goes to a conference committee comprised of House and Senate members.