Democrats blasted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday after she proposed that funds for the Special Olympics, after-school programs and support for students from low-income families be cut.
“The three education budgets from this administration have proposed the largest cuts to education funding in four decades. That’s since the department was created in 1979,” said Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro, who heads the Appropriations Committee’s Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee.
DeVos proposed a 12 percent cut in funding for fiscal year 2020, prompting Democratic lawmakers to criticize the move.
Previous efforts by the Trump administration have been regularly rejected by lawmakers, even when both chambers of Congress were GOP-controlled, and Secretary DeVos’ budget has even slimmer chances of being adopted, CNN writes.
But what has particularly drawn the attention of advocacy groups and lawmakers is the secretary’s proposal to decrease funding for Special Olympics events at schools. When asked about the proposal by Representative Mark Pocan, DeVos defended her decision, saying “We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget. I think the Special Olympics is an awesome organization, one that is supported by the philanthropic sector as well.”
DeVos has, however, supported the group in the past, donating part of her salary to it. She vowed to do the same this year as well and a spokesperson for the secretary confirmed she made the donation last year, noting that DeVos is “personally supportive of Special Olympics and its mission.”
But she was still criticized Tuesday for eliminating money for the 21st Century Community Learning Center, which supports after-school and summer programs for students from low-income families.
“This year, I’m puzzled. You’re trying to cut it again, completely ignoring the strong evidence that parents support this program and in fact want more of it,” said Representative Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.
Republicans were more supportive of the secretary’s proposed budget, acknowledging, nonetheless, that some of the proposed reductions were “shortsighted.”