By Jason Hertz
President Trump backed down on a proposal to cut all funding to the Special Olympics Thursday. The event resulted in a rare occurrence of public tension between Trump and Education Secretary, Betsy Devos.
The Department of Education first proposed the $17.6 million dollar cut, among other reduction measures aimed at state-level special education programs, after having their 2020 budget reduced by 10%. Devos spent the week defending her surrendered position to various congressional inquiries.
California Democrat Barbra Lee drew nationwide attention when calling out DeVos. Lee said, “I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget.” Sports personalities, celebrities, and influencers all chimed in over social media during the week-long deliberations. The commentary from the public created negative press for the Trump administration.
Due to the political pressure, the White House restored the original Speical Olympics grant proposal. The restoration went against Trump’s education pick and, historically, the Republican agenda.
Congress is almost sure to fund the 2020 grant after this backlash.
Some may say that this outcome was inevitable. But in recent years America has come to lack reasonable predictions about political events such as this one. The fascinating thing about the last week is that it shows there are still some lines that neither party can get away with crossing. That a majority of Americans still care about disability rights.
Public outrage at the attempted disenfranchisement has turned to calls for DeVos to resign. This sentiment is par for the course from the Democrats. But even some prominent Republicans, such as 2016 Presidential candidate and former governor of Ohio John Kasich, have called targeting the Special Olympics “outrageous.”
DeVos still defends the plan saying that she and POTUS, “see eye-to-eye” on the issue. Somehow DeVos simultaneously curtails to Trump’s statement that he had “overridden” his own Department of Education. She also defends her own view as someone forced to make “tough choices…around budget priorities.”
Blame can be shifted between the White House, DeVos, or any number of connected departments; but the important take away here is that American citizens still agree on something. Taking funds away from children in need–citizens in need–is unacceptable. No matter what you believe. Now, if only we could agree to extend that same courtesy to non-citizens on our soil we might really learn to get along.