Congress just keeps getting richer.
In general, senators are much wealthier than representatives, and they in turn are wealthier than the average American. But some senators are just like the rest of America: struggling to pay their mortgage.
The estimated average net worth of members of last year's Congress was almost $1 million, up about 10 percent from the previous year, according to analysis of financial disclosures by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The incoming freshman are wealthier still, with an average estimated net worth of $1,066,500, almost exactly $1 million more than the average American household, which is worth $66,700. That could explain why fewer of the freshman belong to the so-called "couch caucus"—those who sleep in their congressional offices to save money—than in years past.
Still, not every member of the upper chamber is rolling in the dough. Below are the five poorest U.S. senators, along with their approximate net worth as estimated by their personal financial disclosures. On these mandatory disclosures, members give a range of values for their assets and liabilities. CRP takes a simple average to determine each member's estimated wealth.
Christopher S. Murphy (D-Conn.) — $7,502 — Interestingly Murphy, the poorest member of the upper chamber, got to the Senate by defeating former WWE chairwoman Linda McMahon, who spent $48 million of her own money in their 2012 race. Murphy has between $30,000 and $100,000 of student loan debt.
Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) — $17,501 — Kirk came to the Senate by winning the election to fill the seat vacated by then-Sen. Barack Obama. Kirk's financial woes stem mostly from outstanding mortgages payments.
Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) — $32,500 — Flake's estimated wealth is brought down by two large mortgage liabilities which together total at least $750,000. That red ink is balanced out somewhat by his thousands of dollars in Apple stock and an apartment in Provo, Utah, a popular skiing destination.
Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) — $40,501 — Pryor's modest finances are mostly a result of paying for his house. He owes Arkansas Federal Credit Union several hundred thousand dollars as a result of taking out a home equity loan after refinancing his mortgage in 2011.
Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) — $53,008 — Heinrich makes the list for mortgages like many of the other "poorest," but he seems to be doing okay. Besides being voted the most beautiful person on the Hill in 2009, Heinrich cosponsored the Stop the Congressional Pay Raise Act while a member of the House in 2009, which would have cancelled Congress's automatic $4,700 pay raise.
Honorable Mention: Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) — $16,000 — DeMint would have made the list had he not abruptly resigned in late 2011 to become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. But his appearance on this list could explain why he left his seat for the better paying gig at Heritage, where the previous president had a salary of more than $1 million, the group's tax filings show. By comparison, the salary of a U.S. Senator is set at $174,000.