The current estimated net worth of Congress is $7 billion dollars. In 2015, the typical member of the U.S. Congress had a net worth of over $1 million dollars.
The richest member of congress is Senator Darrel Issa (R-CA) with an estimated net worth of $448 million. The poorest is Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) with a net worth of -$3.7 million.
Median Net Worth of Congress Over Time
How much is a U.S. Senator or Representative worth?
The typical member of the U.S. Congress is worth $1.03 million.
The net worth of a typical member of Congress has grown 20% since 2007. During those same years, the net worth of the typical American household dropped 35%.
In 2007 the typical senator or representative had a net worth of $803,000. By 2010 that number had grown to $1 million. At the same time, the net worth of U.S. families dropped from $126,000 to $77,000.
From 2010 to 2013, the net worth of the typical member of congress climbed to $1.03 million and the net worth of the median American household rose to $81,000. On the whole, the typical lawmaker is worth the same as 12 median American families.
Also See: Hillary Clinton Net Worth
Total Net Worth of Congress Over Time
The net worth of Congress as a whole has more than doubled since 2004.
In 2004 the total wealth of all U.S. Senators and Representatives was $3.5 billion. That number had swelled to an estimated $7 billion by 2015. The dip in Congress’ total wealth in the graph below reflects the 2008/2009 financial crisis. The meteoric rise in more recent years follows gains in the S&P 500.
The data from 2004-2011 comes from OpenSecrets.org. The numbers from 2012-2015 chart Congress’ wealth by following the growth of the S&P 500 in those years.
Why is the Net Worth of Congress so Big?
There are a total of 535 members of both houses of the U.S. Congress. For such a small number of people to own $7 billion dollars is impressive. Dividing $7 billion by 535 gives an average wealth of $13.4 million per person.
That would mean each U.S. Senator and Congressman was worth $13.4 billion – if the money were divided evenly. It’s not. The top five Senators are worth over $200 million each. The poorest five are worth less than negative $800,000.
Looking at the typical Senator or Representative gives a net worth of $1.03 million. As far as reasons why Congress is so wealthy, it’s anybody’s guess.
Why Does the Net Worth of Congress Matter?
The net worth of Congress means different things to different people.
People on the left side of the political aisle are more likely to see high wealth in high office as a negative thing. A common feeling among progressives is that rich members of Congress are out of touch with most Americans. Worse, wealthy lawmakers are often suspected of crafting laws to increase their own riches, power and influence while disenfranchising those lower down the fiscal food chain.
Those on the political right are more likely to forgive wealth in lawmakers or even see it as a positive factor. To conservatives, wealth is often a sign of success, intelligence and competence. A popular idea among Republicans is that wealthy members of Congress are better equipped to make decisions regarding how the country is run. The argument is that someone who can’t manage their own finances shouldn’t be trusted with running the government’s.
Also see: 5 U.S. Senators Worth Less Than Bernie Sanders
How Many Members of Congress Are Millionaires?
271 of 535 members of Congress are millionaires. That’s more than half. Of the 271 millionaires, Darrell Issa of California is by far the richest. His net worth is estimated at $448 million. Second richest is Mark Warner of Virginia with a net worth of $254 million.
Members of Congress Who Are in Debt
Twenty four members of Congress actually have a negative net worth. Most are Representatives and not Senators. The poorest, Rep. David Valadao of California, is worth minus $3.7 million. Debts related to his ownership in a dairy farm drag down his net worth.
The ten poorest members of Congress are as follows:
|Rep. David Valadao (R-CA)||-$3,700,000|
|Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL)||-$2,320,000|
|Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL)||-$972,000|
|Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA)||-$943,000|
|Rep. Dana Rohrbacker (R-CA)||-$924,000|
|Rep Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)||-$848,000|
|Rep Mike Quigley (D-IL)||-$780,000|
|Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)||-$722,000|
|Rep Chaka Fattah (D-PA)||-$700,000|
|Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)||-$671,000|
Net Worth of Democrats vs Net Worth of Republicans
When it comes to lawmakers, who is richer, Democrats or Republicans?
Common sense would seem to dictate that Democrats are less wealthy than Republicans. However, that’s not the case. The average net worth of Democrats in Congress is actually quite a bit higher than the average net worth of their Republican counterparts.
The average Democrat in the U.S. Senate is twice as wealthy as the average Republican. When it comes to Representatives, their numbers are a lot closer together, with the average Republican at about 30% more than the average Democrat.
The trend has been for net worth to rise gradually in Congress except among Democrat Senators. In that group, wealth has dropped 60% since 2004.
Congress Salary vs Typical American
How much does a member of Congress make vs a typical American? In terms of salary, it may come as no surprise that the lawmakers win again. Since 2007, the income of the median American family has averaged $51,318. That’s about 1/3 of the average salary for U.S. Congress of $172,313.
|Median Household Income||U.S. Congress Salary|
Net Worth of Bernie Sanders vs Congress Net Worth
How does Bernie Sanders’ net worth stack up against the U.S. Congress as a whole? Sanders’ net worth is $528,014. That’s about half the net worth of the median member of the U.S. Congress. Compared to the U.S. Senate, Sanders’ net worth ranks 83 out of 100.
Also see: Bernie Sanders Net Worth