Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was under fire last week after members of a congressional subcommittee questioned the proposed elimination of funding for the Special Olympics.
According to USA Today, DeVos shared that the budget will cut $17.6 million from the Special Olympics – the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with disabilities.
The $17.6 million is only a small portion of the proposed $7 billion or 10 percent cut to educational programs in the budget for the 2020 fiscal year.
When asked before a congressional subcommittee on Thursday if she personally had a hand in cutting the Special Olympics budget, DeVos revealed that she did not. The Education Secretary even went as far as to note that she has donated portions of her salary to the organization.
According to Fox News, DeVos noted that the budget required some “difficult decision” making, but she hopes that the Special Olympics can continue to be supported by private philanthropists.
DeVos said in a statement, “Given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”
Fox News points out that of the Special Olympics total budget, federal funding makes up the smallest portion. In 2016 the Special Olympics received $44 million in direct mail contributions, $38 million in individual and corporate contributions and $11.4 million in federal grants.
Still, many Congress members are disappointed in the decision. According to Relevant Magazine, California Representative Barbara Lee said during the budget defense meeting, “I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget …You zero that out. It’s appalling.”
Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) wrote on Twitter, “While @BetsyDeVosED is cutting the Education Department 12% across the board – including eliminating funding for the Special Olympics – she’s increased the executive pay line in her department by over 15%.”
While @BetsyDeVosED is cutting the Education Department 12% across the board – including eliminating funding for the Special Olympics – she’s increased the executive pay line in her department by over 15%.— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) March 28, 2019
I joined @maddow to talk about how devastating these cuts would be. 📺 pic.twitter.com/oSARjBQrzf
Soon after DeVos’ initial defense of the budget, President Trump released a statement overriding the budget cut. He said, “The Special Olympics will be funded. I just told my people I want to fund the Special Olympics.”
He continued, “I have overridden my people. We're funding the Special Olympics."
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Zach Gibson/Stringer