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Betsy DeVos, Who Wants To Cut Funding For The Special Olympics, Says The Media Lied About Her Wanting To Cut Funding For The Special Olympics

The education secretary is facing criticism for her proposal to cut the almost $18 million the government sends the group. But the plan has little to no chance of ever passing Congress.

Posted on March 27, 2019, at 8:38 p.m. ET

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After facing backlash for the Trump administration's proposal to cut funding for the Special Olympics, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos blasted the media on Wednesday for having “spun up falsehoods and fully misrepresented the facts” about the controversy — at the same time as she stated she did, in fact, want to cut funding from the nonprofit disability organization.

"The Special Olympics is not a federal program. It's a private organization,” DeVos wrote in a statement. “Because of its important work, it is able to raise more than $100 million every year."

"There are dozens of worthy nonprofits that support students and adults with disabilities that don't get a dime of federal grant money," she continued. "But given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations."

That paragraph came at the end of a statement in which DeVos defended the administration's commitment to children with disabilities, and criticized those who she said had spread false news in recent days related to the controversy.

"It is unacceptable, shameful and counterproductive that the media and some members of Congress have spun up falsehoods and fully misrepresented the facts," she said.

The proposal to cut the roughly $18 million the federal government sent the Special Olympics came as part of a budget proposal from the administration to cut $7 billion in Education Department spending.

Some viral tweets had suggested the funding cuts were a fait accompli, but the entire budget proposal in fact has little to no chance of ever passing Congress.

At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, DeVos was grilled about the proposal and admitted she didn't know how many children participated in the Special Olympics.(The organization has said 272,000 in almost 6,500 schools nationally participated in their programs thanks to federal funding.)

"I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget," Rep. Barbara Lee of California told her. "You zero that out. It’s appalling.”

DeVos has insisted the Trump administration is committed to helping children with disabilities. Her statement on Wednesday emphasized their budget also allocated $13.2 billion to the states under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Special Olympics chair Timothy Shriver told MSNBC Wednesday that the organization disagreed with the proposed cuts.

“The federal government, if it believes in full inclusion, and it does — our Constitution, our Declaration and our laws tell us we do — and if the federal government has a role to support that, it ought to be investing in kids with special needs," Shriver said. “Give these young people the chance to shine, to tell their stories, as you’ve heard, the country is starving for this.”

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