In the earliest days of American independence, members of the federal government were not paid a salary as most of them were wealthy to begin with. This included members of Congress. Today, though all congressional representatives earn salaries, not much else has changed.
The typical congressional representative — including both senators and House members — has an estimated net worth of over $500,000, or roughly five times the median U.S. household net worth. The high net worth of American lawmakers is partially attributable to their annual salaries of $174,000, which is more than triple the average wage across all American workers of $51,960 and higher than the median earnings of even the highest paying jobs in America.
Still, and perhaps not surprisingly, the wealthiest congressional representatives did not earn their fortunes as public servants. Many of the wealthiest legislators first had successful and lucrative careers in the private sector. Others, meanwhile, have married into or inherited vast fortunes.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the estimated net worth of U.S. congressional representatives from Roll Call, a Capitol Hill news outlet, to identify the 76 richest members of Congress. Only lawmakers with an estimated net worth of more than $3 million are included on this list. Net worth figures are rounded estimates derived from financial disclosure forms filed in 2018 and are not necessarily comprehensive or exact.
While being wealthy is not a requirement for running for political office, it certainly does not hurt. Campaigning is both time-consuming and expensive, and working-class Americans may find it more difficult to shoulder these burdens than wealthier ones. Wealthy Americans are also more likely to be well-connected, acquainted with powerful business leaders and other affluent individuals who can prove critical for campaign fundraising.
Having small personal fortunes is not limited to the legislative branch of the U.S. Government. Many U.S. presidents have also had net worths in the million- and even billion-dollar range. This is the net worth of every U.S. president, from Washington to Trump. Two lawmakers on this list are currently the leading contenders for the Democratic presidential candidacy.