Education Secretary Betsy DeVos doubles down on defending the Trump administration's proposal to cut all funding for the Special Olympics

  • Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos once again defended the Trump administration’s proposal to cut all federal funding to the Special Olympics.
  • Lawmakers roundly criticised DeVos for the proposed funding cuts during a hearing on Tuesday.
  • In a new statement on Wednesday, DeVos argued that the Special Olympics’ ability to draw a large amount of private donations made it possible for the federal government to end the funding.
  • “But given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations,” DeVos said.
  • The proposal is unlikely to be enacted.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos defended the Trump administration’s proposed cuts to Special Olympics funding in a statement on Wednesday after widespread backlash to the idea.

The president’s fiscal year 2019 budget proposed a massive cut to federal Special Olympics funding. Trump’s budget would eliminate the $US17.6 million the government gives to Special Olympics athletes, training facilities, and programs for children with disabilities.

Lawmakers roundly criticised the proposed cuts at a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday. The hearing also sparked a largely negative online response to the proposal.

Read more:
Trump administration proposes to end all government funding for the Special Olympics, arguing that private philanthropy will pick up the bill

In a new statement out Wednesday, DeVos reiterated her argument from the hearing: the Special Olympics receives adequate private funding and does not need any from the federal government.Her statement read (emphasis added):

“The Special Olympics is not a federal program. It’s a private organisation. I love its work, and I have personally supported its mission. Because of its important work, it is able to raise more than $US100 million every year. There are dozens of worthy nonprofits that support students and adults with disabilities that don’t get a dime of federal grant money. But given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”

According to the Special Olympics’ latest financial statement, 10% of its total funding comes from the federal government – roughly $US15 million in 2017 – while another $US133 million in revenue came from other sources including private donations and royalties fees.

DeVos also highlighted other federal programs that are designed to help students with disabilities that were kept intact in the president’s budget.

The proposed cuts will likely never come to fruition since the president’s budget is simply a proposal that usually bears little resemblance to the final budget Congress adopts. Plus, the likelihood that the cut is enacted is even less likely given that Democrats, who took particular umbrage with the proposal, now control the House.

In fact, the Trump administration proposed cuts to Special Olympics funding in each of its previous two budgets. The cuts were never enacted.

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