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Betsy DeVos' department to cut funds for Special Olympics, American history, native education

Christian Fernsby |
House Democrats lashed out at U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos when she appeared before a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee.

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Democratic lawmakers on the panel grilled her on the White House budget proposal for fiscal year 2020, which aims to cut the Education Department’s funding by $8.5 billion, or about 12 percent, from what it received in fiscal 2019.

“How can you support this budget? I mean that genuinely. You’re the secretary of the Department of Education,” said U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chair of the subcommittee that oversees the Education Department’s budget. She asked DeVos how she could boast of a spending plan that takes money away from teachers and students.

“I believe that this budget is cruel and I believe that it is reckless,” DeLauro said.

“You have zeroed out Special Olympics once again,” said U.S.Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). “I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget. You zeroed that out. It’s appalling.”

The Trump administration has also proposed slashing Special Olympics funds in past budget requests.

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) listed other proposed spending reductions in DeVos’ budget plan, including cutting funds for special education grants to states, for Gallaudet University, a private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing, and for a federal program that prints books for blind students.

“What is it that we have a problem with with children who are in special education?” Pocan asked DeVos. “Why are we cutting all of these programs over and over within this budget?”

Pocan pressed DeVos on how many children would be impacted by the cuts to the Special Olympics program. She said she didn’t know how many kids, but added, “We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget.”

“It’s 272,000 kids,” Pocan told her.

Education Department officials stressed Trump's general desire to impose fiscal restraints on many parts of the federal government.

Among programs desired to have a smaller budget are international education, American history, Alaska native education, Native Hawaiian education, teacher quality partnership...

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