WASHINGTON -- The personal wealth of members of the U.S. Congress has soared in recent years, leaving lawmakers on average far more well-to-do than most Americans as of 2006, said a study on Thursday.
The median net worth of senators was estimated at $1.7 million and House of Representatives members at $675,000, said the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington watchdog group that monitors the influence of money on government.
The center released a report saying that until the recent economic slowdown, lawmakers "enjoyed an extraordinary run in their personal investments and other finances."
The report said, "Members of Congress, who are now paid about $169,000 annually, saw their net worths soar 84 percent from 2004 to 2006, on average."
Based on three years of data through 2006, the most recent available, the center said 58 percent of senators could be considered millionaires, and 44 percent of House members.
Only about one percent of all U.S. adults had a net worth exceeding $1 million around the same time, the center said.
"Like a lot of Americans, as the economy did well, Congress did well -- but lawmakers did especially well," said Sheila Krumholz, the center's executive director, in a statement.
"Now that the nation's economic road is turning rougher, members of Congress have a far more comfortable cushion than most Americans have to ride it out," she said.
The center said its findings were based on lawmakers' financial disclosure reports filed most recently, covering 2006, and from reports for the preceding two years.
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