The U.S. Congress is redefining the phrase “idle rich” during the government shutdown.
The U.S. Congress was unable to pass a budget — one of its primary Constitutional obligations — to keep the federal government open past September 30, the end of the 2013 fiscal year. But while nearly a million federal workers were furloughed without pay, Congress is far less likely to feel the pinch financially.
Why? Because they are, by and large, rich. Here are the facts.
1. 17 of members of Congress in 2013 — or about 3% of all 535 members of the current Congress — have an estimated average net worth of more than $50 million each, according to their financial disclosures for the year 2011.
2. The wealthiest member of Congress today, based on financial disclosures for 2011, was Republican Michael McCaul, who represents Texas’s 10th Congressional district. McCaul and his wife had an estimated wealth of just over $500 million that year.
3. Vying for the top is Republican Congressman Darrell Issa of California, whose 2011 net worth was estimated at $480 million. Issa may have reclaimed the top spot last year, based on 2012 disclosures.
4. The combined net worth of the 17 richest members of Congress was almost $2.5 billion in 2011.
5. Sixty-one of the 100 Senators have an estimated net worth in excess of $1 million.
6. The wealthiest Senator is Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia. His fortune was estimated at $228 million in 2011.
7. The second-wealthiest Senator is West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller. He is the great grandson of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of the Standard Oil Company and the country’s first billionaire.
8. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, has a net worth of $4.5 million — making him the 30th-wealthiest Senator.
9. The minority leader — Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky — has the eighth-highest net worth — at $27 million.
10. Members of Congress are paid an annual salary of $174,000.
11. Under the rules of the federal government shutdown, they will continue to receive their salaries — even as hundreds of thousands of government workers are furloughed without pay.
12. Of the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 192 — or 44% — were millionaires.
13. The Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner of Ohio, is the 84th wealthiest member of the House, with a net worth of $3.6 million.
14. His Democratic counterpart, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, had a fortune that was almost 30 times as great — $94 million. Pelosi is the wealthiest woman in Congress.
15. The total net worth of all 535 members of Congress was about $4.2 billion in 2011.
16. A total of 253 members of the U.S. Congress — or about 47% of all members — have an estimated net worth of at least $1 million. In comparison, only about 9% of all U.S. households can be considered “millionaires.”
17. Looked at another way, the median Congressman had an estimated net worth of $939,505 — just under the millionaire threshold. That means that exactly half of the members were wealthier than that, while the other half were less wealthy.
18. For the United States as a whole, the Census Bureau estimates that the typical U.S. household had a net worth of just $68,828 — including the value of their home, cars and financial investments. (Sorry, no link. The Census Bureau website is a casualty of the shutdown.)
19. Thus, the median Congressman was almost 14 times wealthier than the family he represents.
20. Still, it could be worse. U.S. members of Congress aren’t as rich as China’s legislators.
Data from The Center for Responsive Politics’ analysis of 2011 financial disclosure statements.