Portman Announces OMB Decision to Cancel Proposed Change to Metropolitan Area Standards Thus Protecting Communities from Across Ohio

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, announced that following his efforts to ensure fairness for smaller metropolitan areas, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has canceled a proposed change that would have increased the population threshold for metropolitan areas from 50,000 to 100,000. Communities in Ohio and across the United States count on this designation for federal funding that goes towards important programs. The proposal would have threatened access to vital federal resources for nearly 150 communities across the country, including five in Ohio. Communities in Ohio that would have been affected by this change include Lima, Mansfield, Springfield, as well as the Weirton-Steubenville and Wheeling, WV-OH metropolitan areas. Today’s announcement follows Portman’s introduction of the bipartisan Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization Act to help protect communities across the country from the possible consequences of the proposed change. Last month, community leaders across Ohio voiced their support for the bipartisan Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization (MAPS) Act.

“I’m pleased to announce that the White House Office of Management and Budget has canceled the January 2021 proposal to double the minimum population threshold for metropolitan statistical areas that would have impacted hundreds of cities across the United States, including several in my home state of Ohio, and potentially jeopardize much-needed federal resources from reaching communities that depend on them,” said Senator Portman. “Thanks to our hard work and the widespread support for the bipartisan MAPS Act, which would have required OMB to provide a public report to Congress estimating the county-level impact and justifying the scientific basis for any proposed change to an existing statistical area standard, we have protected communities across Ohio and the entire country.”    

Metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) were created to standardize and identify the nation’s largest centers of population and activity. Metropolitan and non-metropolitan designations are used by agencies across the federal government to determine eligibility for funding and services. However, the federal government has not provided a full analysis of which programs use this designation. While losing MSA status may not necessarily result in a loss of federal funds, the uncertainty is concerning and warrants careful deliberation of unintended consequences of the proposed redesignation. 

The Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization Act was supported by the U.S. Conference of Mayors; the National Rural Health Association; the National Association of Counties; Mayor Warren Copeland and City Manager Bryan Heck of Springfield, Ohio; Mayor David Berger of Lima, Ohio; the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce; the Greater Springfield Partnership; the Ohio Mayors Alliance; and the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce.