Lifestyle & Belief

Members of Congress speak at high school level, new Sunlight Foundation reports

Congress now speaks at almost a full grade level lower than it did just seven years ago, with the most conservative members of Congress speaking on average at the lowest grade level, according to a new Sunlight Foundation report.

An analysis of the Congressional Record, found that Congress collectively speaks at a 10.6 grade level - equivalent to a sophomore in high school, down from 11.5 in 2005. The members speaking at the lowest grade levels tend to be freshmen Republicans.

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CNN reported of the bottom ten on the list, all were Republicans and eight were freshman. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a Republican freshman from South Carolina, scored the lowest - at a 7.9 grade level - or middle school. 

"We do it on purpose," Mulvaney told CNN, speaking about himself and his other freshman Republicans. "People have been teaching this for decades. If you want someone to understand your message, you speak clearly and concisely." 

Mulvaney graduated with honors from Georgetown University and earned a law degree at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

"Controlling for other factors, it is generally the most moderate members of both parties who speak at the highest grade levels, and the most extreme members who speak at the lowest grade levels" explained the report. "This pattern is most pronounced among freshmen and sophomore members."

Here is how Congress stacks up

-The US Constitution is written at a 17.8 grade level and the Declaration of Independence at a 15.1 grade level.

-The Gettysburg Address comes in at an 11.2 grade level and Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is at a 9.4 grade level.

(The study used the Flesch-Kincaid test, which equates higher grade levels with longer words and longer sentences.)

[View the story "Twitter reacts to Congress speaking at 10th grade level" on Storify]