Things You Didn’t Know About American Congress

Vote Display in the US House of Representatives

We may think that we know a lot of things about politics, but here are some things that may surprise you about American Congress. These things range from the incredibly trivial to the deeply concerning. Let’s start with one of the least worrying of the things that you probably didn’t know about Congress. The rest are unfortunately not quite so worry free.

There is a Stash of Candy in the Senate

Who knew that members of Congress had a supply of candy right there on the Senate floor? The Candy Desk tradition started in 1965 when Senator George Murphy of California decided to indulge the sweet toothed tendencies of his fellow senators. He kept a stash of candy inside the desk in his office. The tradition caught on and ever since there has been a desk of candy in the Senate. If you want to know where to find it, you head to the back row on the Republican side of the Senate.

The Candy Desk flouts the rule that there should be no eating on the Senate floor. Senator Mark Kirk is the current keeper of the desk. He ensures that it is well supplied with Mars Bars and gum.

A Convicted Felon Can Serve in the Senate

There are many restrictions on what a convicted felon can do. There are certain jobs which they cannot hold, such as a teacher, a law enforcement officer and they cannot become a member of the United States Military. You may be surprised to learn that there is nothing stopping them from being a member of Congress. There is absolutely no provision in the Constitution, or the general legislation which means that a member of Congress is automatically barred from holding office because he is a convicted felon.

The Average Member of Congress is Wealthy and Some Are Super Rich

On average the members of Congress have a net worth in excess of $1 million. There are some who have far greater wealth than a mere $1 million. Not only are members of Congress much richer than the average American, but there are increasing their wealth much faster than the general population. Since 2007 the wealth of the average American has decreased in real terms by 43%. Members of Congress have increased their wealth since that time by on average 28%.

Senators have by far the most wealth in Congress. The average net worth of a member of the Senate is $2.8 million. Some Senators are faring very much better than that. Senator Darrell Issa of California is worth an estimated $450 million. There is no one really close to him in terms of wealth, but Senator Mark Warner is not short of a penny or two with a net worth of $254 million.

 

Photo by lordsutch