Advance Notice: Briefs

Trump breaks with own administration, says Special Olympics will be funded

By: - March 28, 2019 4:25 pm

President Donald J. Trump, Wednesday, March 20, 2019 | Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr Public Domain

Updated, 5:33 p.m., with DeVos’ statement.

Following an intense outcry and two very uncomfortable Capitol Hill committee hearings this week for U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, President Donald Trump said the Special Olympics “will be funded.

“I just told my people, ‘I want to fund the special Olympics,'” Trump said Thursday afternoon, as reported by the Hill.

Betsy DeVos

Trump broke the news to reporters as he left the White House for a 2020 campaign rally at the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids.

“I heard about it this morning,” he said. “I have overridden my people. We’re funding the Special Olympics.”

After Trump made his comments DeVos put out a statement, per CNBC reporter Christina Wilkie, that “seemed to disavow her own budget.”

Here’s the statement obtained by the Advance: “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. This is funding I have fought for behind the scenes over the last several years.”*

As the Advance reported earlier this afternoon, DeVos struck a more combative tone when she appeared before a U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Thursday. Democrats continued to hammer her for the Trump fiscal year 2020 budget slashing spending on a host of federal education programs — including zeroing out funding for the Special Olympics.“Whoever came up with that idea at [the White House budget office] gets a Special Olympic gold medal for insensitivity,” U.S. Sen. Durbin (D-Ill.) said.

DeVos said at the hearing that the budget process “is a collaborative one” within President Trump’s administration, but she hadn’t personally been involved in the Special Olympics decision.

On Tuesday, she was grilled on Special Olympics funding during a U.S. House hearing and sent out a press release defending herself on Wednesday.

“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 at Thursday’s Senate hearing.

Advance Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender contributed to this report.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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