The new 'millionaires' club'

People hold umbrellas as they walk past the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, Dec. 10, 2013.
People hold umbrellas as they walk past the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, Dec. 10, 2013.

How will Congress ever understand the struggles of ordinary Americans when its members' bank balances are anything but ordinary?

That's the question raised by a new report from the Center for Responsive Politics, showing that at least 268 of the 534 members of Congress had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012. The median net worth for the 530 lawmakers in office as of the May filing deadline last year was $1,008,767--up 4.4% from the previous year’s Congress.

The wealthiest member is Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, who is worth an average net of $464 million, who made his fortune in the car alarm business before heading to Capitol Hill.

California also is home to the poorest member of Congress: Rep. David Valadao, a Republican, who reported debt of up to $12.1 million as a result of loans for his family dairy farm.

But party lines don't seem to make much of a difference when it comes to what politicians have in the bank. Congressional Democrats had an average net worth of $1.04 million, while Republicans were close behind with a median of almost exactly $1 million.