With former Rep. Jane Harman gone, the total minimum net worth of women currently in Congress is about $247 million, down from $319 million two years ago. The California Democrat was one of the wealthiest Members for years before retiring.
But wait — the lion’s share of all assets in Congress are controlled by a few of the very wealthiest Members, and nine of the top 10 richest are men. So instead of averaging that massive wealth across the whole Capitol, it makes more sense to find the midpoint of wealth for each gender. And here the narrative flips.
Among the 93 female Members of the 112th Congress, the midpoint of net worth is about $650,000. Half of the women are above that number, half are below.
For the 448 men, the median net worth is about $490,000.
And in those numbers, there is a kind of equality — for men and women in Congress, the median net worth rose about 13 percent during the two-year period.
Roll Call calculates minimum net worth by adding the minimum values of all reported assets and subtracting the minimum values of all reported liabilities on the forms Members submit each year.
In general, the wealth totals vastly underestimate the actual net worth of Members of Congress because they are based on an accounting system that does not include homes and other non-income-generating property, which could tally hundreds of millions of uncounted dollars.
In addition, Roll Call’s count is based on the minimum values of assets reported by Members on their annual financial disclosure forms; the true values of those assets might be much higher.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.