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Special Olympics will be funded, Trump declared, reversing his administration's previous stance

Posted: 1:56 PM, Mar 28, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-28 18:03:53-04
Special Olympics will be funded, Trump declared, reversing his administration's previous stance

Facing backlash, President Donald Trump informally announced outside of the White House on Thursday that his administration would continue funding its share for Special Olympics, mere hours after his Education Secretary Betsy DeVos defended the cuts for a third day in a row.

"I've overridden my people, we're funding the Special Olympics," Trump said on Thursday.

Trump's proposed budget still needs congressional approval.

On Tuesday, DeVos met with lawmakers, and defended the Trump Administration for proposing nearly $18 million in cuts to Special Olympics.

DeVos was questioned on the subject by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., who took issue with DeVos not knowing the number of participants in Special Olympics.

“Let me just say that I think Special Olympics is an awesome organization, one that is well supported by the philanthropic sector as well,” DeVos said.

According to 2017 figures from Special Olympics, the organization generated nearly $110 million in annual revenue. The majority of its budget comes from donations from individuals and corporations, which totals $80 million a year.

DeVos then defended the move as one to save the government money.

“We had to make some difficult decisions," she said.

A number of prominent celebrities decried DeVos' testimony later on Tuesday.

"Terrible. We should support athletes with disabilities, not rip away their opportunities," Chelsea Clinton tweeted.

On Thursday, before a Senate committee, DeVos once again defended the budget cuts to Special Olympics.

"I love Special Olympics myself, I have given a portion of my salary to Special Olympics. I hope all of this debate encourages lots of private contributions to Special Olympics," DeVos said "Let's not use disabled children in a twisted way for your political narrative. That is just disgusting and it's shameful, and I think we should move on from that."

While DeVos was delivering testimony, Trump reached the conclusion that the government should provide funding for Special Olympics.

"I just told my people, I want to fund the Special Olympics, and I just authorized a funding of the Special Olympics," he said. "I've been to the Special Olympics, I think it's incredible."

According to Special Olympics, its mission is "to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community."