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As I visit each of Montana’s 56 counties every Congress, I have the privilege of meeting with Montanans from all walks of life.

Most importantly, I get to listen to veterans, small business owners, seniors, farmers, ranchers, and even newly sworn in U.S. citizens.

And no matter where I am in Montana, they are proud to be Americans. Perhaps none more so than newly sworn in citizens.

When I’ve asked folks whether or not we should know how many citizens and non-citizens live in our country, it’s been an easy yes. When they learn we don’t ask such a basic question on the U.S. census form today, folks are surprised.

That’s why I introduced a bill to include the citizenship question on the census – because Montanans want to know.

Despite what some would like you to think, the citizenship question for Montana isn’t a Republican or a Democrat question – it’s a commonsense question.

The fact is, this isn’t a new phenomenon nor a radical proposal. The citizenship question has been included on our census in many years past.

But most importantly, for Montana, the question could lead to a major win.

In the 1990 census, Montana lost its second seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. We had the same population, but with half the votes we once had in Congress. States with faster growing populations, like California, gained a greater say in Washington, D.C.

According to independent academic studies and even the Democrat appointed member of Montana’s Redistricting Commission Joe Lamson, adding the question “are you a U.S. Citizen” back on the census could make the difference in Montana regaining a congressional seat from California, and even more federal funding for our state.

That means Montanans would have an additional seat at the table. It means more support for veterans services, more federal grants for meth prevention and treatment facilities and more resources to help curb the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

It’s no wonder states like California and New York fear the citizenship question – they can’t stand the thought of losing their money and power in Washington, D.C. to a rural state like Montana.

If there is an opportunity to regain our representation we once had, Montanans should set aside partisan labels and put Montana first.

Montanans want more transparency on who is living in our country, Montanans want fairer representation, and Montanans want our government to serve Montanans, not criminal illegal immigrants.

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Steve Daines, Montana's junior U.S. senator, resides in Bozeman.

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