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Betsy DeVos Proposes Dept. of Education End Funding for Special Olympics

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2019

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed cutting funding for the Special Olympics before a House subcommittee on Tuesday, according to Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press

"We are not doing our children any favors when we borrow from their future in order to invest in systems and policies that are not yielding better results," she said while presenting the Department of Education's budget proposals.

The news was met with swift rebukes from several lawmakers:

Rep. Don Beyer @RepDonBeyer

This is just disgusting and we are not going to stand for it. Congress must block Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos' attempts to end funding for the Special Olympics, initiatives to address autism, and other developmental disability programs. https://t.co/olsSVibjNH

Rashida Tlaib @RashidaTlaib

These are years we can't get back for our children. The damage that Betsy DeVos' actions have on our children will take years to address and for some it is irreparable harm. https://t.co/mHmsvSwGbK

Rep. Mark Pocan @repmarkpocan

In @BetsyDeVosED’s budget, there are major cuts to programs like the Special Olympics. Sec. DeVos didn’t know the number of kids who would be hurt by that cut, so I made sure she now knows that 272,000 kids are seeing their support taken away. https://t.co/6ZiOfDU4Ou

They weren't alone:

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops

I cannot think of a more disheartening piece of news. I have covered the Special Olympics. It is amazing. This is not about politics, it is about who and what we value as a nation. This is absolutely disgraceful. https://t.co/xGYp20oK0P

Holly Rowe @sportsiren

This is an outrage. @SpecialOlympics is literally the BEST of all of us. This can NOT happen. https://t.co/MVFPFgKmKS

Per Spangler, "In the case of the $17.6 million cut to help fund the Special Olympics, a program designed to help children and adults with disabilities, DeVos suggested it is better supported by philanthropy and added, 'We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget.'"

It's unlikely that many of DeVos' proposed cuts will be approved, with the Democrat-controlled House unlikely to sign off on her budget. As Spangler noted, many of DeVos' more extreme proposals were blocked by the House even when it was controlled by a Republican majority.

The Special Olympics was founded in 1968 for athletes with intellectual disabilities, with over 5 million people in over 170 countries competing in the initiative in 2016.

In the organization's mission statement, it notes that it "strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people" using the "the power of sports" to help "people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success."

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