US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos met with lawmakers on Tuesday, and defended the Trump Administration for proposing nearly $18 million in cuts to Special Olympics.
Devos was questioned on the subject by Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., who took issue with DeVos not knowing the number of participants in Special Olympics.
“It’s 272,000 kids,” Pocan said,
“Let me just say that I think Special Olympics is an awesome organization, one that is well supported by the philanthropic sector as well,” DeVos said.
According to 2017 figures from Special Olympics, the organization had nearly $110 million in annual revenue. The majority of its budget comes from donations from individuals and corporations, which totals $80 million a year.
DeVos defended the move as one to save the government money.
“We had to make some difficult decisions," she said.
A number of prominent celebrities decried DeVos' testimony later on Tuesday.
"Terrible. We should support athletes with disabilities, not rip away their opportunities," Chelsea Clinton tweeted.
"The benefits of Special Olympics, which I have seen first hand as volunteer are IMMEASURABLE," actress Marlee Matlin tweeted. "DeVos proposal to cut their funding will adversely affect thousands with developmental disabilities. Don't let this happen!"
According to Special Olympics, its mission is "to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community."