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Trump backs off Special Olympics funding cuts

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    President Donald Trump talks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 28, 2019, for the short trip to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Trump is traveling to Michigan to speak at a rally before spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH

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    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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    House Minority Leader Kevin, McCarthy, R-Calif., speaks to reporters at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 28, 2019. Asked Thursday whether he supports Education Secretary Betsy Devos’ proposal to eliminate funding for the Special Olympics, McCarthy told reporters, “No. I fully support Special Olympics.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Published March 30. 2019 06:11AM

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he is backing off his budget request to eliminate funding for the Special Olympics, reversing course on a proposal that was unlikely to be approved by Congress after days of bipartisan criticism.

Speaking to reporters Thursday as he left the White House for a rally in Michigan, Trump said he had authorized funding for the organization. “I heard about it this morning. I have overridden my people. We’re funding the Special Olympics.”

Trump’s announcement came after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spent days defending the proposal, which drew widespread condemnation from lawmakers, as well as advocates. The president’s sudden reversal reflected a political desire to move away from a plan that was not expected to pass Congress, but also underscored Trump’s comfort with undercutting top officials.

Said Trump: “I’ve been to the Special Olympics. I think it’s incredible.”

Devos, walking back her defense of the cuts proposal, issued a statement, saying: “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.”

The remarks were a sharp contrast from her comments to Senate Democrats in a budget hearing earlier in the day. DeVos said her department had to make “tough choices” on the budget and insisted the Special Olympics should be supported through private donations.

In a heated exchange with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., DeVos said she “wasn’t personally involved” in pushing for elimination of the funding, but she defended it as her agency seeks to cut $7 billion for the 2020 budget.

The president’s shift Thursday was not the first time he has undermined a top aide. He repeatedly berated former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in public and private and clashed openly with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, ultimately firing him in a tweet.

The Trump administration’s education budget proposal called for the elimination of $17.6 million in funding for the Special Olympics, amounting to roughly 10 percent of the group’s overall revenue. Most of its funding comes from individual and corporate contributions and other fundraising efforts.

The Special Olympics is the largest sports organization in the world for people with intellectual disabilities, with over 5 million athletes from 174 countries participating in competitions while spreading a global message of inclusion and empowerment. The organization celebrated its 50th anniversary last year.

Trump officials previously called for the elimination of Special Olympics funding in their budget proposal for 2019, but Congress rejected the idea. Lawmakers from both parties said they would reject it again for 2020.

Durbin told DeVos on Thursday that it would be shameful to pull support for the Special Olympics, saying “someone has to accept responsibility for a bad decision.”

Asked Thursday whether he supports the proposed cut, House Minority Leader Kevin, McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters, “No. I fully support Special Olympics.”

Before Trump’s announcement his campaign sought to use the funding conflict as an attack against Democrats over abortion. Deputy Communications Director Matt Wolking tweeted Thursday: “I’m sure Democrats who see abortion as the cure for Down syndrome and other disabilities are sincerely concerned about kids having the chance to be in the Special Olympics.”

DeVos faced questioning on a range of topics Thursday, including her proposed rewrite of rules around campus sexual assault and her handling of for-profit colleges.

Murray said the Education Department has been too slow to process more than 100,000 applications for loan forgiveness from students who say they were cheated by for-profit colleges. DeVos delayed an Obama-era rule allowing such forgiveness, but a federal judge said the delay was unlawful.

Asked on Thursday how many applications had been approved since the judge’s order was issued, DeVos said she didn’t know.

It's interesting how loser trump blames his "people" every time he screws up! He's hot to take credit for everything. But of course, not for the 99% crap that leaks out that septic tank he calls a brain.
DO, you are a vulgar little punk. You are the one with a “septic tank” for a brain. How accomplished are you? How many buildings have your name on the side of them? How many Billions of $ are you worth? How often do you donate $100K to a charity? How many people did you ever employ? How long did you have a successful TV show? We all know the answer to this. The answer is zero. You are a zero with a big mouth. You insult the President of the United States while you lack the intelligence to even spell right. Joke on you brudda! I am going to staple your a** to the truth. I am going to make you eat your crazy talk. Don’t forget to capitalize the “T” in Trump, DO, my little punk. You are a hater. Guess what? No collusion. America is great! I am not sick of winning yet! Republicans will carry you even if you are vulgar and weak. Republicans will give you a hug. Republicans will pay your mental health treatments (which are long overdue). Republicans will give you love...even if you are a long-standing loser. Hate on for all to see.
The United States is cutting off aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Why don't you move to El Salvador DO? You can be the Special Olympics coordinator down there. Or perhaps Cuba would be better suiting for you? What's with your hatred for America?
I was hoping Devos would have shut down the Department of Education by now. As for funding of Special Olympics? Where's the social media outcry over people (Democrats) who say mandatory prenatal screens will identify Down syndrome in the womb, thus terminating those pregnancies.
Did you know, an overwhelming majority of voters are horrified by infanticide and want Congress to protect babies born alive during failed abortions, but the media ignores that story.
Here's a story... Not a single one of the top Senate Democrats running for president in 2020 could muster the basic decency to outlaw infanticide, but they'll cackle like hens over games? Killing babies is ok, but don't cut money for games? It's games people, though important, and valued, it's not life or death (abortion)!
Good point Mr. Meyers. The intent was to have the Special Olympics funded privately. If it were up to Democrats, the Special Olympics wouldn’t exist. All of the participants would have been aborted. MAGA! Every life is precious!

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