Claire Nance

WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) along with 51 colleagues requesting a reversal of the proposed rule to reduce the population threshold for a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

“I am proud to come together with 51 of my colleagues to strongly oppose the proposed OMB rule change that would strip 144 communities in 45 states and Puerto Rico of their status as a Metropolitan Statistical Area,” said Rep. Westerman. “OMB provided no reasonable justification for changing 70 years of precedent in a manner that could detrimentally hinder the economic development of many communities across America. I am glad to work with my friends across the aisle to voice our opposition against this unacceptable rule change.”

“The classification of our smaller cities is hugely important in funding streams, especially as we look towards our recovery from the pandemic,” said Rep. Wild. “I urge Acting Director Fairweather to keep in mind the needs of our communities at this critical juncture and rethink any move to reclassify cities from around the country, including those in my district.”

Stakeholder Support:

“In economic development and site selection for job creating projects, the conversation begins with MSAs,” said Gary Troutman, CEO and President, Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce. “If Hot Springs and Garland County were no longer an MSA, we would no longer even be considered for the many economic development projects that originate in this way. That would be devastating for our community. For the state of Arkansas to lose four of its seven MSAs would greatly reduce the state’s ability to attract economic development projects.”


On January 19, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget published a proposal in the Federal Register to change the population threshold for a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The current population threshold, which has been unchanged since 1950, is 50,000 or more persons. The proposed new threshold will be 100,000 or more persons. This change will cause 144 of the 392 MSAs to lose their designation.

Declassified cities will either lose access to some federal programs or see greatly diminished federal funding from those using the MSA designation as a qualifying factor. Some programs, like the Community Development Block Grant, Federal Transit Administration grants, and Medicare’s prospective payment system for acute care hospital inpatients could be inaccessible to these communities.

Find the full text of the letter here.

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