Westerman Statement on Reversal of OMB’s MSA Population Threshold Rule Change

July 14, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR) released the following statement on the reversal of the proposed Office of Management and Budget (OMB) rule that would have raised the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) population threshold from 50,000 to 100,000 people: 

“I commend OMB’s decision to honor my request to reverse course on the harmful rule change that would have stymied the continued development of 144 communities in 45 states and Puerto Rico,” said Congressman Westerman. “I am sincerely grateful for the ability to lead a bipartisan letter signed by Rep. Rick Crawford and 50 of my colleagues to OMB Acting Director Rob Fairweather voicing the concerns of members and see a favorable result.

“Under the proposed rule change, the Arkansas cities of Hot Springs, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, and Jonesboro would have lost their classification as a Metropolitan Statistical Area, severely limiting their ability to access grants and federal funding to grow their economies. I will always fight to ensure Arkansas’ smaller cities receive the same opportunities as larger cities to develop economically.”



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 would have risen to 100,000 or more persons. This change would have caused 144 of the 392 MSAs to lose their designation.

Declassified cities would have either lost 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 have become inaccessible to these communities.

On July 13, 2021, the White House released a press release announcing the reversal of the proposed rule change.

Find the full text of the letter sent March 16, 2021 here