Democrats Denounce Special Olympics Cuts That Congress Will Ignore

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 28: Starkey Hearing Foundation Ambassador Kyle Massey (C) and team Respect participate in The Special Olympics Unified Sports Experience Football Game at UCLA on July 28, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Foundation)
Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Foundation

Democrats this week are portraying the Trump administration as dismissive of children with disabilities because of proposed budget cuts to the Special Olympics organization.

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement Wednesday in defense of cuts to the Special Olympics – a private organization – that have been recommended in the past, but ignored by Congress anyway.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Michelle Hackman tweeted:

While Democrats and their allies condemn abortion restrictions that ban the procedure simply because an unborn baby is diagnosed with a disability, they let loose a social media firestorm on the Trump administration for suggesting $17.6 million in federal funding cuts to the Special Olympics program.

Democrat politicians are portrayed in media as defending disabled children, “vowing” the cuts will not happen – when the fact is, they have never happened. In fact, Congress has provided even more funding to the Special Olympics.

Politico reported DeVos’ defense of the administration’s budget proposal during a congressional hearing “went viral”:

On Tuesday, Democrats pounced on the proposed cut during the hearing, with Rep. Barbara Lee of California calling the plan “appalling.”

“I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget,” Lee said.

“Some tweets claimed DeVos had already cut the funding,” the report continued:

As the report also stated, however:

The department’s fiscal 2020 proposal would eliminate federal money for Special Olympics Education programs. The department’s last two budget proposals would also have eliminated federal funding, but nothing would be cut unless Congress agreed to do so, and Congress has rejected administration plans. In fact, Congress has increased the funding.

“It is unacceptable, shameful and counterproductive that the media and some members of Congress have spun up falsehoods and fully misrepresented the facts,” said DeVos in her statement Wednesday, adding that President Donald Trump’s budget “supports our nation’s 7 million students with disabilities through a $13.2 billion request for IDEA funding, 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,” the secretary continued. “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.”

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican who chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee that oversees education spending, has already said Special Olympics funding would not be cut.

“I’m a longtime supporter of Special Olympics and proud that Missouri is home to the largest Special Olympics training facility in the world,” Blunt said in a statement. “I was just at the World Games and saw, as I have many times before, what a huge impact the organization has on athletes, their families, and their communities. Our Department of Education appropriations bill will not cut funding for the program.”

“The Special Olympics is not a federal program,” DeVos stressed. “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.”

In 2018 DeVos announced she would donate part of her salary to the Special Olympics.

 

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