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Betsy DeVos Defends Trump Administration’s Elimination of Special Olympics Funding

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended the Trump administration’s decision to cut all $18 million of federal funding typically allocated to the Special Olympics Wednesday, arguing that the foundation gets ample funding from private donors.

“The Special Olympics is not a federal program. It’s a private organization,” said DeVos in a statement. “Because of its important work, it is able to raise more than $100 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,” she continued. “But given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”

The Trump administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 included a $7.1 billion cut to the Department of Education. Speaking to the House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday, DeVos came under fire for applying those cuts to programs for students with disabilities.

“What is it that we have a problem with, with children who are in special education?” asked Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), according to NBC News. Pocan pointed out that not only did DeVos cut funding for the Special Olympics, but the proposed budget includes a 26% reduction in state grants for special education.

DeVos replied that her department has “continued to hold that funding at a level amount and in the context of a budget proposal that is a 10% reduction,” reports NBC.

In her statement Wednesday, DeVos reiterated the Trump administration’s dedication to students with disabilities, claiming that “the media and some members of Congress have spun up falsehoods and fully misrepresented the facts.”

According to DeVos, the proposed budget includes a $13.2 billion request for the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, “the same funding level appropriated by Congress.”

“All of that money goes directly to states to ensure students with disabilities have the resources and supports they need,” said DeVos. “The budget also requests an additional $225.6 million for competitively awarded grants to support teacher preparation, research and technical assistance to support students with disabilities.”