Portman Applauds Committee Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Communities from Consequences of Proposed Change to Metropolitan Area Standards

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, applauded the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for passing his bipartisan Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization Act to help protect communities across the country from the possible consequences of an increased population threshold for metropolitan areas. Metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) were created to standardize and identify the nation’s largest centers of population and activity.  Some agencies base the distribution of federal funds on the designations, so Office of Management and Budget changes to the designations could inadvertently change which areas are eligible for funding. 

In July, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) canceled a proposed change that would have increased the population threshold for metropolitan areas from 50,000 to 100,000. The proposal would have threatened access to vital federal resources for nearly 150 communities across the country, including five in Ohio. Communities in Ohio and across the United States count on this designation for federal funding that goes towards important programs. 

The Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization Act would require agencies to affirmatively choose to adopt a new metropolitan statistical area designation through a public notice-and-comment process for each program any change might affect to ensure that stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input and communities can prepare appropriately for any changes to benefits.  It also would require the OMB and Government Accountability Office to provide Congress and the public with information about how the federal government makes metropolitan statistical area designations and uses them in federal programs.    

“While I’m pleased that OMB 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, today’s support from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for our bipartisan MAPS Act will ensure that moving forward, agencies will have to provide the public an opportunity to comment on whether they should adopt a metropolitan statistical area change for the distribution of benefits.  Further, OMB will have 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,” said Senator Portman.      

The Metropolitan Areas Protection and Standardization Act is 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.