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

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)
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 Thune (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.

“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 Cramer (R-N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Adrian Smith (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.

Tags Adrian Smith Cynthia Lummis Dusty Johnson John Hoeven John Thune Kevin Cramer Kyrsten Sinema Mark Kelly Metropolitan statistical area Micropolitan statistical area Mike Rounds Office of Management and Budget Rob Fairweather Rural area

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