On Tuesday, President Joseph Biden visited Durham to kick off his administration’s “Investing in America” tour. The three-week tour is focused on promoting Biden’s economic agenda and touting major legislation that he has signed into law, including the Inflation Reduction Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Rep. Wiley Nickel and Rep. Valerie Foushee, who represents Durham in the House of Representatives, traveled with Biden. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, Durham Mayor Elaine O’Neal and Durham County Commissioners Chair Brenda Howerton joined Biden when he landed.
Biden toured Wolfspeed, a Durham-headquartered semiconductor manufacturer that recently announced a $5 billion investment to build a new semiconductor plant in Chatham County. After touring Wolfspeed’s facilities, including the company’s Power Applications Lab, Biden went outside to greet a group of union workers and to give a speech to a gathered crowd.
The president began his remarks with a plea to Congress to ban assault weapons, one day after six people — including three children — were killed at a Nashville school shooting.
“We owe these families more than our prayers,” he said. “Why in God’s name do we allow these weapons of war on our streets and in our schools?”
Biden recognized North Carolina’s growing role in domestic manufacturing, pointing to Wolfspeed’s future manufacturing plant as well as an incoming multibillion-dollar production facility by VinFast, a Vietnamese electric car company.
“Right here in America, here in North Carolina, we’re making chips that go into electric vehicles,” Biden said. “These vehicles are powered by batteries and critical minerals that we’re making here in North Carolina. We’re making electric vehicles here in North Carolina. That’s what invest means.”
In Aug. 2022, Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act, a law that authorized $280 billion to subsidize semiconductor companies and invest in technology research. Wolfspeed has indicated its intent to “obtain federal funding from the CHIPS and Science Act to accelerate the construction and build-out of the facility.”
"We used to invest 2% of our GDP in research and development," Biden said. "The last 35 years, it got down to 0.7%."
Biden was joined on stage by Cooper, who said Biden “has done more in two years than many presidents would have aspired to do in eight.” The president is widely expected to seek re-election in 2024.
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Jazper Lu is a Trinity junior and managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.