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DeVos Grilled on Plan to Yank Special Olympics Funds

Education secretary says 'we had to make some difficult decisions' for the next budget
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2019 8:05 AM CDT
Updated Mar 27, 2019 12:49 PM CDT
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – By her own words, Betsy DeVos thinks the Special Olympics is "an awesome organization"—just not one that should be funded by the federal government. The secretary of education appeared before a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday to try to explain nearly $7 billion in suggested cuts to education programs, including the entire $18 million allotted to the group for people with intellectual disabilities, reports NBC News. During her grilling on the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan pointed out 272,000 kids would be affected by the proposed move, per the Hill. Dem Rep. Barbara Lee directly addressed DeVos as well, telling DeVos she didn't get "why you would go after disabled children in your budget," per NBC.

In a Wednesday statement, DeVos defended the amounts allocated to students with disabilities ($13.2 billion) and those who teach them ($225.6 million in grants). She also emphasized that the Special Olympics is a private, not federal, organization, one that she has personally supported (Time notes DeVos donated part of her 2018 salary to the Special Olympics) and one that is able to raise $100 million annually (NBC cites such sponsors as United Airlines and Toyota). It's a worthy program, but "given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations." Her statement also addressed the media and members of Congress who have "spun up falsehoods and fully misrepresented the facts." (Read more Betsy DeVos stories.)

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