President Trump told reporters Thursday that he has overridden a budget request by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that would have stripped funding for the Special Olympics.
“The Special Olympics will be funded,” Trump told reporters on the White House lawn. “I just told my people I want to fund the Special Olympics and I’ve just authorized a funding of the Special Olympics. I’ve been to the Special Olympics. I think it’s incredible and I just authorized a funding. I heard about it this morning. I have overridden my people. We’re funding the Special Olympics.”
DeVos appeared Tuesday before the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee and caused an outcry after being questioned about her request to strip $17.6 million from the Special Olympics as part of her proposed education budget.
Her clash at the House hearing with Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., went viral, and generated embarrassing headlines for the Trump administration.
In @BetsyDeVosED’s budget, there are major cuts to programs like the Special Olympics. Sec. DeVos didn’t know the number of kids who would be hurt by that cut, so I made sure she now knows that 272,000 kids are seeing their support taken away. pic.twitter.com/6ZiOfDU4Ou— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) March 26, 2019
Democrats pounced on the story, blasting DeVos and the administration as out of touch.
!!! Five Trump trips to Mar-a-Lago would cover Betsy Devos’s proposed Special Olympics cuts https://t.co/D6fpF50MB9— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) March 28, 2019
Betsy DeVos “loves” the Special Olympics so much, she wants to cut federal funding for it.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 28, 2019
She “loves” students so much, she changed rules to make campus sexual assault victims more vulnerable.
And she “loves” teachers so much she wants to cut student loan forgiveness, too. https://t.co/Jv20rTVIu4
When pressed on her decision to withhold funds from the Special Olympics, a program for disabled children and adult athletes, DeVos lashed out at the media for reporting what she claimed were “falsehoods.” In the same statement, however, DeVos said that “given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”
With the story gaining more traction by the hour, DeVos continued to try to clarify the thinking behind her budget request.
“I love Special Olympics,” DeVos said. “I have given a portion of my salary to Special Olympics. I hope all of this debate inspires private contributions to Special Olympics.”
After days of attempting to explain that the federal government couldn’t afford to fund “every worthy program,” however, DeVos offered a new version of events.
“I am pleased and grateful the president and I see eye-to-eye on this issue, and that he has decided to fund our Special Olympics grant,” DeVos said in a statement released Thursday evening. “This is funding I have fought for behind-the-scenes over the last several years.”
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