Joe Kennedy explains why Betsy DeVos's Special Olympics cuts won't happen

"This work, as distinct from the traditional Special Olympics program, is critical to the future not just of education in schools but of the country", he said, adding that the lessons the Special Olympics programs offer "are critically the responsibility not just of the volunteer sector but of our elected leaders".

The Trump administration's proposed education budget also includes about $2 billion in cuts to Pell Grants on top of billions in reductions to about 30 other programs, according to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., chairwoman of the appropriations subcommittee.

"We had to make some hard decisions with this budget", DeVos said Tuesday in an exchange with Representative Mark Pocan, a Democrat, about the Special Olympics.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos repeatedly refused to answer a question on whether she thought it was okay for students to be discriminated against for being LGBTQ.

The Special Olympics' 2017 annual report, the most recent available on its website, says the group received $148 million in revenue that year, including $15.5 million from federal grants.

"Our members put in tireless efforts to help out and raise money for Special Olympics".

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

The president doesn't have the power to authorize funding for the Special Olympics, since spending levels are set by Congress.

Durbin interrupted to ask his question again, if she was the one who personally approved the significant cuts to special education. "But given our current budget realities, the federal government can not fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations".

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It was the Special Olympics cuts, as well as other proposed cuts to money for special education and students with special needs, that drew Democratic ire.

"If we weren't to receive that funding in 2020, it would be a major hit to our program, said Aaron Mills, Special Olympics Michigan communications director".

More than five million children worldwide are involved with Special Olympic programs.

President Donald Trump's budget plan slashes programs of all stripes, but the idea of cutting federal support for a beloved organization appeared to generate outrage far and wide. I mean that genuinely, ' she said.

Sen. Susan Collins sees Special Olympics as a bipartisan issue. "But given our current budget realities, the federal government can not fund every worthy program, particularly the ones that enjoy robust support from private donations".

The organization is largely funded by corporate and private donations.

Joe Haden, who plays for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers and works as an ambassador for the Special Olympics, said he was sickened by the cut.

She's clearly not happy that this news makes the administration look heartless, especially when $18 million is a drop in the bucket for the federal budget.

  • Sonia Alvarado