The Linguistic Society of America has issued a statement expressing concerns with the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act (H.R. 3293), recently introduced in the House of Representatives.

Though the LSA agrees "that linguists and other researchers supported by federal dollars must be accountable to taxpayers and that the work supported by NSF should be in the nation’s interest [...] we object to political interference in the determination of what is worthwhile science in the national interest." From the LSA statement:

While H. R. 3293 states, “Nothing in this section shall be construed as altering the Foundation’s intellectual merit or broader impacts criteria for evaluating grant applications,” the bill seeks to codify a definition of “national interest” that could be interpreted in ways that would do just that.

For example, the press release accompanying the introduction of H.R. 3293, released by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and lead sponsor of the bill, calls out specific grants that he has determined to be unworthy of federal support—grants that were awarded as a result of NSF’s rigorous merit review process, which the bill asserts to uphold. The U.S. scientific enterprise must remain insulated from political and ideological pressure if we are to encourage the most innovative science.

US Capitol

The LSA encourages interested members to contact their member of Congress to share the value of scientific research, and to keep up-to-date with this legislation via the LSA policy listserv, COSSA, and other allied organizations.