High-tech textile research would be supported by a new $5 million competitive grant program under new legislation in Congress called the “ATTIRE Act.”

The “American Textile Technology Innovation and Research for Exportation Act” was introduced this week in the House of Representatives by two North Carolina sponsors, Democrat David Price and Republican Howard Coble.

High-tech textiles are already being researched in North Carolina. Researchers at North Carolina State University are developing and testing new materials that protect against the biological threats and the elements. The North Carolina State Thermal Protection Laboratory is researching the thermal protection properties of materials used in military service, firefighting, welding and metal work.

Under the proposed competitive grant program that would be created by the ATTIRE Act, high-tech textile R&D projects would be eligible to compete for grant funds. The two representatives say that right now there is no single federal program to support innovation and high-tech manufacturing in the U.S. textile and fiber products industry.

The two representatives say the textile industry contributes $60 billion annually to the U.S. economy and employs more than 500,000 workers across the country, including many in North Carolina.

It’s the second time around for this bill. The two representatives introduced similar legislation in the 112th Congress.