Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives

Net Worth of US Senators and Representatives

How wealthy are the politicians that represent us in Congress? The net worth of Senators and Representatives provides some insight into the backgrounds of our federal lawmakers.

Some key data on Congressional members’ wealth:

  • The median net worth of Senators was over $3.2 million in 2018. For House members, it was $900,000.
  • Over half of Senators and over a third of House members are millionaires.
  • The richest member of Congress is Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) with a net worth of over $135 million.
  • The “poorest” Senator is Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) with a net worth of -$150,000.

This article will break down the net worth figures of Congress members in several ways, from the richest and poorest members to changes over time and differences between the House and Senate.

The 10 Wealthiest and Poorest Senators

The Senate is a millionaire’s club, with over half of current Senators holding seven-figure net worths. Here are the 10 wealthiest Senators:

Wealthiest Senators

  1. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL): $232.9 million
  2. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT): $174.4 million
  3. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA): $90.2 million
  4. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): $46.9 million
  5. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): $22.8 million
  6. Sen. James E. Risch (R-ID): $17.1 million
  7. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND): $16.2 million
  8. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY): $14.8 million
  9. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): $13.6 million
  10. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA): $13 million

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the “poorest” Senators based on personal net worth:

Poorest Senators

  1. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI): -$150,000
  2. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY): $78,000
  3. Sen. Kristen Sinema (D-AZ): $180,000
  4. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS): $330,000
  5. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR): $400,000
  6. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI): $420,000
  7. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND): $450,000
  8. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI): $480,000
  9. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV): $520,000
  10. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): $550,000
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The 10 Wealthiest and Poorest House Members

The median net worth among House members was $900,000 in 2018. Here are the 10 Representatives with the highest personal net worths:

Wealthiest House Members

  1. Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT): $135.7 million
  2. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX): $88.5 million
  3. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI): $37.7 million
  4. Rep. Vernon Buchanan (R-FL): $73.9 million
  5. Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL): $22.8 million
  6. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN): $18.5 million
  7. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX): $15.3 million
  8. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): $12.3 million
  9. Rep. Dave Trott (R-MI): $11.4 million
  10. Rep. Diane Black (R-TN): $11 million

On the other end of the scale, these House members had the lowest estimated net worths:

Poorest House Members

  1. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA): -$12.1 million
  2. Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL): -$2 million
  3. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO): -$200,000
  4. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI): -$50,000
  5. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL): -$39,000
  6. Rep. Al Green (D-TX): -$36,000
  7. Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL): -$5,000
  8. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ): $0
  9. Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ): $0
  10. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX): $19,000

Net Worth of New Members

Each Congressional election brings in a new class of Senators and Representatives. In the 2018 midterm elections, 64 new members joined the House and 15 new Senators were elected.

The median net worth of new House members from the 2018 election was $380,000. For new Senators, it was $2.4 million.

Some notable wealthy new members include Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) with $174 million and Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN), the brother of former VP Mike Pence, with $14 million. On the other end, new members like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) reported net worths under $30,000.

So while millionaires still dominate, the new class brought more economic diversity to Congress than in previous years.

Changes in Net Worth Over Time

For members who serve multiple terms in Congress, their net worth often grows significantly over the course of their tenure.

Some examples:

  • Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) increased his net worth from $2.1 million in 2010 to $43.7 million in 2018.
  • Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) increased from $2 million to $14 million over two terms.
  • The net worth of long-serving Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) grew from $2 million in 2010 to $12.3 million in 2018.
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Several factors contribute to the growth in net worth, including investing, outside income, real estate appreciation, and inheritances.

However, a few members have seen their net worth decline while in Congress, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) dropping from $51 million to $46 million over two terms.

Net Worth by State Delegations

Since Congressional delegations represent entire states, looking at net worth by state provides insight on the wealth of those states’ delegations.

Here are the wealthiest state Congressional delegations based on median net worth:

Wealthiest State Delegations

  1. Maryland – $4.3 million median net worth
  2. New Jersey – $4.1 million
  3. Hawaii – $3.4 million
  4. Massachusetts – $3.3 million
  5. Connecticut – $3 million

And the states with the “poorest” Congressional delegations:

Poorest State Delegations

Indiana – $440,000 median net worth

Iowa – $423,000

Idaho – $392,000

Arkansas – $280,000

West Virginia – $254,000

    States with higher median incomes and costs of living tend to have wealthier Congressional delegations. Poorer states tend to send less wealthy representatives to Congress.

    Comparing House and Senate Net Worth

    The typical Senator is wealthier than the typical Representative, usually by a factor of 2-3x.

    In 2018, the median estimated net worth was:

    • Senator: $3.2 million
    • Representative: $900,000

    The richer Senate numbers are driven by several factors:

    • Senators represent entire states, which means they come from a bigger pool of potential candidates, including statewide officeholders who are wealthier on average.
    • Senate campaigns cost millions more than House campaigns, making personal wealth more of a prerequisite to run.
    • With 6-year terms and only a third up for re-election each cycle, Senators have more time to accumulate wealth while in office.

    The House, with 2-year terms and perpetual campaigning, makes it harder to grow your own net worth while in office.

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    Historical Net Worth Averages

    Looking historically, the median net worth of both Senators and Representatives has increased at least 5-10x over the past several decades.

    Here are some averages over time:

    • 1974: Senators $128,000 | House Members $126,000
    • 1984: Senators $281,000 | House Members $155,000
    • 1994: Senators $655,000 | House Members $280,000
    • 2004: Senators $1.7 million | House Members $656,000
    • 2014: Senators $2.8 million | House Members $756,000
    • 2018: Senators $3.2 million | House Members $900,000

    Congress has gone from solidly middle-class backgrounds to predominately wealthy and elite. Some contributing factors:

    • Rising campaign costs mean members either need to be wealthy to self-fund or spend significant time fundraising from wealthy donors.
    • Years of high private sector salaries have created more millionaires.
    • Asset appreciation – especially in real estate – has grown the net worth of long-serving members.

    Conclusion

    Key Takeaways

    • The typical member of Congress is a millionaire, especially in the Senate where over 50% have a net worth over $1 million.
    • Long-serving members often increase their net worth substantially during their tenure, driven by rising asset values, investing, and outside income.
    • Wealthier states generally have wealthier Congressional delegations, while poorer states send less wealthy members.
    • The Senate is considerably wealthier than the House, with its statewide constituencies, longer terms, and higher campaign costs.
    • Over the decades, Congressional wealth has risen significantly as national asset values have grown and millionaires became more common.

    The makeup of Congress skews significantly more wealthy and elite than the broader American population. With median household net worth around $120,000 nationally, the rich life experiences of our representatives often don’t reflect those of typical citizens.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: Who is the richest member of Congress?

    A: Currently the richest member is Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) with an estimated net worth of $135.7 million.

    Q: Who is the poorest member of Congress?

    A: The poorest member is Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) with a net worth of -$12.1 million due to business debts and loans.

    Q: What is the average net worth of a Senator?

    A: In 2018, the average net worth of a Senator was $3.2 million.

    Q: Do members of Congress become wealthier while in office?

    A: Often yes – many members see their net worth rise substantially over their time in office from assets, investments, and outside income.

    Q: Why is Congress so much wealthier than average Americans?

    A: Reasons include the need for personal wealth to fund campaigns, millionaires being more likely to run, and increasing assets over long tenures.

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