Lawmakers warn of funding risk if 144 cities are reclassified as 'micropolitan' areas

Lawmakers warn of funding risk if 144 cities are reclassified as 'micropolitan' areas
© Greg Nash

Lawmakers are warning of funding risks for 144 cites if the federal government moves forward with a proposal to raise the urban population criteria for metropolitan areas from 50,000 to 100,000, which would reclassify the localities as "micropolitan."

A bipartisan group of eight senators and two House members led by Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Senators say they have deal on 'major issues' in infrastructure talks MORE (R-S.D.) sent a letter last week to acting Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Rob Fairweather warning that the designation would “harm communities across the nation.”

“If the recommendation to increase the required urbanized area population from 50,000 to 100,000 is accepted and the [metropolitan statistical area] classification is revoked, 144 communities nationwide could lose eligibility for certain federal programs,” the lawmakers wrote.

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“We strongly encourage you to reject any increase in the minimum urbanized area population needed to qualify as [a metropolitan statistical area],” they added. “Adhering to this recommendation has the potential to harm communities across the nation, which we hope you take into account while considering these recommendations.”

The letter was also signed by Sen. Michael Rounds (R-S.D.), Kevin CramerKevin John CramerBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Trump takes two punches from GOP The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE (R-N.D.), Cynthia LummisCynthia Marie LummisFormer Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi dies after bicycle accident Former Sen. Mike Enzi hospitalized after serious bicycle accident Republicans raise concerns about Olympians using digital yuan during Beijing Games MORE (R-Wyo.), Mark KellyMark KellyHarris's bad polls trigger Democratic worries Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor Poll: Two-thirds of AZ Democratic voters back primary challenge to Sinema over filibuster MORE (D-Ariz.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal MORE (R-N.D.) and Kyrsten SinemaKyrsten SinemaSenate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session Senate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal On The Money: Justice Department says Trump's tax returns should be released | Democrats fall short of votes for extending eviction ban MORE (D-Ariz.) and Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Adrian SmithAdrian Michael SmithRepublicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change On The Money: Senate confirms Gensler to lead SEC | Senate GOP to face off over earmarks next week | Top Republican on House tax panel to retire GOP Rep. Kevin Brady won't seek reelection MORE (R-Neb.)

Hoeven sent a separate letter to OMB last Tuesday warning that the requirement would also negatively harm “many micropolitan areas on the precipice of advancing to metropolitan area status,” such as the North Dakota cities of Bismark, Grand Forks and Minot.

The Associated Press first reported the OMB’s consideration earlier this month. The news outlet noted that multiple city leaders and rural researchers have urged the office to reject the proposal.

The AP noted that the 50,000-person standard was introduced in 1950, when about half of U.S. residents lived in metro areas. Now, 86 percent of residents do.