Yesterday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wrote a letter in which she slammed the media, members of Congress, and everyone else for supposedly lying about her desire to eliminate federal funding for the Special Olympics—right before admitting that she wants to eliminate funding for the Special Olympics.
Today, following a Senate hearing in which she faced fierce criticism from Democrats over her proposal to eliminate the funding, DeVos didn’t have a whole lot to say when CNN reporter Ryan Nobles caught up with her. In fact, she had literally nothing to say, staying totally silent for minutes as he asked her questions.
It’s easy to see why DeVos is so silent on this one, as even congressional Republicans are distancing themselves from her. On Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that he opposed the cuts.
Additionally, Michigan GOP Rep. Paul Mitchell wrote to the House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, urging the committee to maintain funding levels for the Special Olympics:
While McCarthy ultimately won’t have a ton of sway over this year’s budget, given that House Republicans are in the minority, the request has also run into opposition from Republicans in the Senate. Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee which deals with the Department of Education, immediately came out in opposition to the proposal yesterday, and reiterated his opposition in prepared remarks before a Senate hearing featuring testimony from DeVos today:
Further, while some small, targeted grant programs may not have widespread impacts simply because of their size, they can be life-changing for the students and families they touch and build the evidence-base for states and school districts to fund such activities. For example, I have seen Special Olympics athletes compete in Missouri and in the World Games. The limited funding this subcommittee provides for Special Olympics leverages private resources to help schools implement comprehensive policies to transform school climates and ensure that students with disabilities are fully welcomed and included in student-life. This funding has directly impacted the lives of thousands of students both with and without intellectual disabilities. It also provides a model for other schools and districts to support this kind of work without direct federal funding.
When you’ve reached a line that even the ghouls in the GOP won’t cross, it’s time to reassess some things.
With the proposal all but dead, it looks like congressional Republicans saved the Trump administration from itself this time. Still, Senate Democrats teed off on DeVos on Thursday for the decision—one which DeVos denied being “personally involved” in.
“Whoever came up with that idea at OMB gets a Special Olympics gold medal for insensitivity,” Sen. Dick Durbin told DeVos.