The White House, Not Betsy DeVos, Wanted To Cut Special Olympics Funding

Trump restored the funding for the event, but was that the plan all along?

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Van Andel Arena on March 28, 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Grand Rapids was the final city Trump visited during his 2016 campaign.
Scott Olson / Getty Images

Trump restored the funding for the event, but was that the plan all along?

Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Education Secretary, has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism for her proposal to cut down the funding of Special Olympics. As reported by CNBC, DeVos struggled to defend the $18 million cut during congressional hearings this week, saying it only represented a fraction of the “tough choices” her department had to make. She instead requested that citizens make private contributions to the event.

“I hope all of this debate encourages lots of private contributions to Special Olympics,” she said.

But in light of the growing criticism by both former athletes and social media users, Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he had decided to “override” his people about funding the Special Olympics.

“The Special Olympics will be funded,” Trump said.

“I just authorized the funding of the Special Olympics. I heard about [the proposed cuts] this morning… and I have overridden my people.”

As it turns out, however, it was not DeVos who wanted to slash the budget for the event in the first place. According to CNN, it was the White House Office of Management and Budget that wanted to revoke the budget. The report claims that Betsy DeVos was made a scapegoat for taking the fall so that the president could override the decision and make himself appear as a hero for saving the day.

Department staffers told CNN that DeVos didn’t propose to cut down the event’s funding, but the White House Office of Management and Budget kept rejecting it. After Trump announced that he was going to fund the Special Olympics, which he claimed he personally enjoyed, his Education Secretary released a statement where she said that her Department had been fighting to restore the event’s funding for a few years.

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“[I am] pleased and grateful the President and I see eye-to-eye on this issue. This is funding I have fought for behind the scenes over the last several years,” DeVos’ statement read.

This is in clear contradiction to what DeVos had told the Congress only a few days earlier, where she had pointed out that the $18 million funding cut would be used to fund other Education Department programs.

After Trump restored the funding, the White House Office of Management and Budget also released a statement, claiming President Trump with a “big heart” had decided to fund the Special Olympics because it was a “worthy cause.”

“When [the President] learned of this issue, he has a big heart and made an executive decision. While the budget requests over $13 billion for special education, this administration has also always made clear that the Special Olympics is a worthy cause,” the statement said.