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Members Of Congress Grow Wealthier Despite Recession

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CONGRESS NET WEALTH
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) (C) speaks during a news conference on 'energy, climate-gate and President Obama's trip to Copenhagen' with members of the House Republican American Energy Solutions Group at the U.S. Captiol December 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. What some climate change critics are calling 'climate-gate,' emails and other documents between scientists were hacked or stolen from a British climate-change research center. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Despite the economic recession and declining household wealth, the net wealth of members of Congress continues to rise, according to a Roll Call analysis of financial disclosure forms.

Members of the House and Senate have a collective net worth of $2.04 billion, up from $1.65 billion in 2008. The vast majority of the increase goes to the wealthiest members of Congress, who also account for most of Congress' net worth.

Members' net wealth may be much higher, however, since Roll Call only used the minimum valuation of assets in the range required by disclosure forms, and disclosure forms do not include non-income-producing assets, such as a personal residence.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) reported that his assets were worth at least $295 million. Much of his wealth comes from the money he earned in the car alarm business. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) wealth also increased from 2009 to 2010, from $21.7 million to $35.2 million. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) all had multimillion-dollar net worths in 2010.

Federal Reserve data released in March showed Americans' household net worth declined 23 percent between 2007 and 2009 from $125,000 to $96,000, due to declining home equity (not included in congressional disclosure forms) and investments. Families also took on slightly more debt. Families in the top 10 percent of net worth saw smaller declines of 13 percent on average.

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