Day in the life in Washington, D.C., with Rep. Greg Gianforte


    NBC Montana got a chance to go behind the scenes in the U.S. House of Representatives with Rep. Greg Gianforte on Thursday. (Photo: NBC Montana)

    This week, NBC Montana's taken you to the Senate side of Congress with Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester. Now, we're taking you to the House of Representatives with Rep. Greg Gianforte.

    Two worlds working together, but the Senate and the House are very different. You can feel the change when you cross over the Capitol into the hallways of the House of Representatives.

    The thing that hasn't changed? The topic of the month -- the government shutdown and 800,000 federal workers not getting paid.

    "We need to secure our border," Gianforte told us when we asked him about a compromise with Democrats. "The president’s been very clear. He’s talked to the experts. The number is $5 billion. Honestly, from Montana’s perspective, I was talking to a sheriff recently from Lewistown, and he says he knows when Mexican meth shows up in the community. He can tell because he sees a spike in the crime rate. This is a real issue for Montana. It’s not just about illegal immigration. It’s about community safety. Meth is tearing our communities apart in Montana, and the amount of money being asked for in the scheme of things is not that much. We need to secure the border."

    The House feels a little less shiny than the Senate offices. They're smaller and have a lot of people to accommodate. Whoever holds our seat is the only one out of 435 members representing Montana.

    "There's natural affinities with other members. There are other ag states, others that are very interested in the tourism economy, those that are interested in natural resources. So I tend to find birds of a feather depending on the topic."

    Last session, the House passed 750 bills, but the Senate only voted on about 200 of them, according to Gianforte. But something changed this year -- leadership.

    "It is definitely different. But one of the biggest lessons I've learned I think in life, is that I don't worry about things I can't control," Gianforte said. "And even when the Republicans were in the majority, it's not like I got to call all the shots back here in Washington. So you have to work with people."

    That party of one covers a lot of ground, but it would take a huge population change to add another representative.

    "The average congressional member today has about 650,000 constituents. Representing Montana, I have the largest congressional district in terms of people. We would have to add hundreds of thousands of people to get a second seat again. Will that happen in this next census? I'm not sure it will," Gianforte said.

    But it's happened before.

    "Montana's had two congressional seats twice. When Jeannette Rankin was elected in the early 1900s, she filled a second open seat in Montana. That's how she got elected originally," Gianforte explained.

    From Rankin to Mike Mansfield, our past Montana leaders can be found all over the Capitol building. It's a source of pride for all of our delegation.

    Gianforte's fear for this 116th Congress matches that of Daines and Tester.

    "I would hate to see this stalemate that we have continue," Gianforte said.

    In case you missed our other reports, we also shadowed Tester and Daines this week on Capitol Hill. Stay tuned to NBC Montana next week for more in-depth reports from our time in our nation's capital.

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