And the Trump administration is struggling to justify its plans to cut federal funding to the Special Olympics and other programs benefiting students with disabilities, while spending tens of millions more to fund charter schools and higher salaries at the Department of Education. Under President Trump’s 2020 budget plan, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos proposed zeroing out funding for the Special Olympics—the third year in a row she’s made such a request. This is Betsy DeVos being questioned Tuesday by Wisconsin Democratic Congressmember Mark Pocan.
Rep. Mark Pocan: “Do you know how many kids are going to be affected by that cut, Madam Secretary?”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: “Mr. Pocan, let me just say again, we had made—we had to make some”—
Rep. Mark Pocan: “OK.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: —”difficult decisions with this budget. And”—
Rep. Mark Pocan: “OK, and this is a question of how many kids, not about the budget.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: “I don’t know the number of kids.”
Rep. Mark Pocan: “OK. It’s 272,000 kids.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: “I also know that I—I think”—
Rep. Mark Pocan: “That’s all—OK, I’ll answer it for you. That’s OK, no problem. It’s 272,000 kids that are affected.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos: “Let me just say that I think Special Olympics is an awesome organization, one that is well supported by the philanthropic sector, as well.”
Rep. Mark Pocan: “Sure.”
As of Thursday morning, a MoveOn petition asking DeVos to reverse plans to cut programs for the Special Olympics had gathered nearly 100,000 signatures. Last year Congress allocated about $17.6 million to the Special Olympics. The Washington Post reports that figure is roughly equivalent to the amount taxpayers allocated to President Trump’s last five trips to his golf resort at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.