Betsy DeVos is glad to be education secretary ‘most days’
After a rough week in which she spent three days defending a proposed funding cut to the Special Olympics only to be later openly reversed by the president, Betsy DeVos said Friday that she’s still happy to be education secretary.
DeVos was asked if she’s glad to be in her position during an interview on stage at a summit sponsored by the National Review Institute in Washington, D.C.
“I am indeed. Yes,” she replied, as the crowd laughed — but then added, “Most days I am.”
DeVos appeared twice on the Hill this week to defend her budget proposal. With Democrats leading the charge, lawmakers blasted her for eliminating funding for the Special Olympics and for requesting a significant cut to her department’s overall funding — for the third year in a row.
Amid an outpouring of public outcry, DeVos repeatedly stood by the decision to cut the money for the Special Olympics. She argued that while it’s an “awesome” organization and one that she personally donates to, it does not need federal backing because it receives private, philanthropic support.
But in a surprise remark just hours after she appeared before a Senate committee on Thursday, President Donald Trump himself undermined DeVos’ position, saying that he had “overridden” her budget plans — claiming he had just heard about the proposal that morning.
“I want to fund the Special Olympics and I just authorized a funding of the Special Olympics,” Trump told reporters.
Shortly after Trump’s comments, DeVos quickly reversed her position and issued a statement saying that she and the president agree.
“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,” DeVos said.
Earlier in the day, DeVos told senators that she was not personally involved in the decision to cut the funding.
Ultimately, it’s Congress that decides whether the Special Olympics would receive funding. It was unlikely lawmakers would have made the cut even before the President stepped in. They rejected the proposal when it was proposed by DeVos in the previous two years and included $17.6 million for the Special Olympics as part of an overall funding increase for the Department of Education last year.