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.
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.”*
Moments later, DeVos put out a stmt which seemed to disavow her own budget. “I am pleased and grateful [POTUS] 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 for several years.” https://t.co/Yy4IRLklAc
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) March 28, 2019
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.
“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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