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Betsy DeVos responds to critics after proposal that would cut federal funding to Special Olympics

She says she still supports the program, even if she doesn't think the federal government should

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Education Secretary Betsy Devos has responded to criticism over her decision to cut federal funding for the Special Olympics, arguing that the organization gets enough money from private donations.

What happened?

The Department of Education plans to cut $7 billion in funding from education programs. This includes $18 million that the federal government grants to Special Olympics. That would represent around 14.5 percent of the organization's $124 million in revenue for 2017.

During a hearing regarding the proposed changes, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) criticized DeVos for the proposed cuts, which also included cuts to programs for blind students.

"What is it that we have a problem with, with children who are in special education?" he asked her.

This isn't the first time the Department of Education has tried to cut funding for Special Olympics. According to Politico, Congress rejected similar measures in its last two budget proposals.

What did DeVos say?

In a statement released Wednesday, DeVos said that it was "unacceptable, shameful and counterproductive that the media and some members of Congress have spun up falsehoods and fully misrepresented the facts."

She went on to point out existing funding that would continue to support students with disabilities.

"The Special Olympics is not a federal program," she concluded. "It's a private organization. I love its work, and I have personally supported its mission. 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. But given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations."

According to NBC News, a spokesperson for the administration also volunteered that DeVos has personally donated to Special Olympics in the past.

One last thing…
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