Blackburn Leads Delegation In Prioritizing Tennessee Recovery Efforts

March 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) along with Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Representatives Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Diana Harshbarger (R-Tenn.), and David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) sent a letter to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Acting Director, Rob Fairweather, requesting a delay to policies that would devastate Tennessee’s economic recovery.

“Significantly altering a metric used for federal and state funding would devastate recovery efforts across the Volunteer State,” said Senator Blackburn. “It is critical that we prioritize the wellbeing of our constituents ahead of a re-evaluation of OMB statistical policy. 

You can read the full letter to OMB Acting Director Fairweather here:

Dear Acting Director Fairweather,

We write to you regarding the notice of proposed changes to the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) metropolitan and micropolitan statistical area standards. Specifically, the prospect of doubling the minimum urban area population requirement for a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) from 50,000 to I00,000 would hurt several Tennessee communities.

On January 19th, 2021, 0MB published a notice and request for comment on a proposal to update the MSA designations. We have serious concerns with the proposed changes, which would have a detrimental impact on economic development in these areas.

Currently, there are 392 MSAs across the country, ranging from large metros such as Nashville, Tennessee, to smaller, regional MSAs such as Cleveland, Jackson, and Morristown, Tennessee. If enacted, 144 MSAs, including three in Tennessee, would be downgraded. Notably, several programs tie funds to census bureau statistics, and the changes contemplated by OMB would impact federal and state funding. These communities, which have been ravaged by the pandemic, would face increased competition among rural communities for scarce funds. Many of these areas are burgeoning manufacturing, technology, and workforce hubs, but companies may choose to invest in other MSAs if these communities were downgraded.

As we recover from the pandemic, we ask you to halt any upcoming rulemaking until the end of the pandemic and work with Congress and stakeholders to implement updated statistics as appropriate.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to a written response no later than April 2nd, 2021.