President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would authorize federal funding for the Special Olympics, seemingly undercutting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ proposal to cut government backing of the program.
Trump made the announcement as he left the White House on his way to a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan. USA Today reported that the president told journalists that he had heard about the cuts earlier Thursday morning and said he thought the program was “incredible.”
“I have overridden my people. We’re funding the Special Olympics,” he said.
Trump’s comments came after DeVos’ budget proposal to cut $17.6 million from Special Olympics funding sparked criticism from across the nation and on Capitol Hill earlier in the week.
The education secretary’s proposal was part of the $4.75 trillion federal budget package Trump’s administration sent to Congress earlier this month.
As reported by The Inquisitr earlier this week, on Tuesday DeVos defended the cuts during congressional hearings on Tuesday, which were part of the president’s agenda to reduce federal spending for domestic programs for the upcoming fiscal year with the exception of the military, USA Today reported. CBS News reported that Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee said the proposed cut was appalling, adding that she could not understand why the education secretary would “go after disabled children.”
DeVos reportedly told congressional members that the department had to make some “difficult decisions” with the budget, adding that the government could not fund every worthy program — especially a private organization like the Special Olympics that received “robust” support from donors, according to CBS News.
The secretary’s proposed cuts were not likely to pass in a Democrat-led Congress. She has proposed similar cuts twice before, which lawmakers rejected.
CNBC reported that shortly after the president made his comments, DeVos issued a statement claiming she and the president were in agreement over the issue.
“I am pleased and grateful the president and I see eye-to-eye on this issue, and that he has decided to fund our Special Olympics grant,” DeVos said. “This is funding I have fought for behind-the-scenes over the last several years.”
In his earlier remarks, the president did not elaborate on whether his administration would fund the entire $17.6 million for the organization or if it would be protected from any future cuts.
The Special Olympics was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver and, through the years, the organization has helped inspire people with disabilities to achieve great things.