(U.S.) President Donald Trump overrides proposed cuts to the U.S. government’s funding of the Special Olympics.
Following after a public outcry over Education Secretary Betsy DeVos attempts to defend the proposed budget, which included significant cuts to the Special Olympics and other special ed programs, immediate action is taken to change course.
Initially, the proposal eliminated approximately $18 million in government funding for the games, which had first appeared in the 2020 budget of the Department of Education.
DeVos struggled to defend the cuts during congressional hearings this week. She argued the cuts represented only a fraction of the “tough choices” the department had to make. “I hope all of this debate encourages lots of private contributions to Special Olympics,” she added.
When Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin questioned whether DeVos knew how many children would be affected by such drastic cuts, she answered that she did not know. Pocan responded: “I’ll answer it for you, that’s OK, no problem. It’s 272,000 kid that are affected.”
Pocan also noted the budget included a 26% reduction to state grants for special education and millions of dollars in cuts to programs for students who are blind.
The Special Olympics was quick to respond to the proposal. “Every day around the world, Special Olympics ends bullying and discrimination of people with intellectual disabilities – often the most marginalized people in society,” the organization explained in a public statement.
We ask federal, state and local governments to join Special Olympics in remaining vigilant against any erosion of provisions that have made a substantial difference in the lives of people with ID. U.S. Government funding for our education programming is critical to protecting and increasing access to services for people with intellectual disabilities. “The United States Department of Education, in partnership with state Departments of Education and local education authorities, have contracted with Special Olympics to provide critical educational services in schools, supporting the development of children with special needs, supporting the learning about their peers, and supporting the teaching of critical, social and emotional skills such as grit, perseverance and inclusion.”
In a sudden reversal on Thursday, President Trump declared that he has “overridden my people” and will fund the Special Olympics despite his administration’s earlier proposed cuts. “The Special Olympics will be funded. I just told my people, I wanna fund the Special Olympics, and I just authorized funding of the Special Olympics,” he explained while leaving an evening rally in Michigan.
The Special Olympics is not a federal program. It’s a private organization.