POLITICS

'Shame On You’: Betsy DeVos Slammed For Trying To Defund Special Olympics

The proposed cuts have almost no chance of passing Congress.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos tried to defend the department’s proposed budget cuts ― including the elimination of funding for the Special Olympics ― in a hearing before House lawmakers on Tuesday.

It didn’t go well. 

According to Education Week, the proposal released earlier this month would gut at least 29 programs in an attempt to save some $7 billion. 

“We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget,” DeVos told a House subcommittee. 

“Madam Secretary, I have to say, and maybe it’s offensive: Shame on you,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said per CNN.

The suggested budget has little chance of making it into law; the Trump administration has proposed similar cuts in previous years that didn’t pass when Republicans controlled the House. With Democrats now holding the purse strings, it’s even less likely to pass. 

But if the Special Olympics cuts were enacted, more than 10 percent of the organization’s revenue would be impacted. 

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) asked DeVos how many kids would be affected by the proposed Special Olympics cuts. 

DeVos said she didn’t know. 

It’s 272,000 kids,” he replied. 

DeVos admitted that the Special Olympics was an “awesome organization” but noted that it also received support from philanthropic groups. DeVos, a billionaire, even donated a portion of her salary to the organization last year. More than two years ago, she met with Special Olympics athletes and shared this image on Twitter: 

This week, that old image received many new replies: 

DeVos pushed back on the negative public reactions to the budget proposal in a statement on Wednesday.

“The Special Olympics is not a federal program,” the statement said. “It’s a private organization. I love its work, and I have personally supported its mission. 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.”

This story has been updated with a statement from Betsy DeVos.

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Inspiring Moments From 2013 Special Olympics
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