Betsy DeVos

U.S. President Trump departs on travel to Michigan from the White House in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan from the White House in Washington, U.S., March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria?

March 28, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump overrode his budget team and backed funding for the Special Olympics on Thursday after his proposed cuts to the athletic program drew heavy fire from both Republicans and Democrats.

Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, which he released earlier this month, would have zeroed out funding for the Special Olympics, which has an allocation of $17.6 billion this fiscal year.

There was no sign that Congress was going to agree to defund the popular Special Olympics program in spite of Trump’s proposal. He had sought to cut funding last year as well and lawmakers added the funding back into the budget.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had struggled to defend the proposal in testimony to Congress and both Trump’s Republicans and opposition Democrats had denounced the move.

The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities or physical disabilities.

Talking to reporters on the White House South Lawn, Trump said he had just heard about the controversy on Thursday morning.

“I’ve been to the Special Olympics, I think it’s incredible and I just authorized a funding,” Trump said. “I heard about it this morning. I have overridden my people. We’re funding the Special Olympics.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Dan Grebler)

Source: OANN

p>President Donald Trump says he is backing off a budget request to cut funding for the Special Olympics, after days of criticism.

Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday, "I've overridden my people for funding the Special Olympics."

The Trump administration's education budget proposal calls for the elimination of $17.6 million in funding for the Special Olympics, roughly 10 percent of the group's overall revenue.

Democrats pressed Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on the topic during a Senate budget hearing Thursday, just days after House Democrats grilled her on the proposal and sparked criticism online.

DeVos said she "wasn't personally involved" in pushing for elimination of the funding, but she defended it as her agency seeks to cut $7 billion from the 2020 budget.

Source: NewsMax America

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday defended a proposal to eliminate funding for the Special Olympics, pushing back against a storm of criticism from athletes, celebrities and politicians who rallied to support the organization.

DeVos became a target on social media after Democrats slammed her plan to remove the group's funding as part of nearly $7 billion in budget cuts for next year. The Special Olympics received $17.6 million from the Education Department this year, roughly 10 percent of its overall revenue.

In a statement responding to criticism, DeVos said she "loves" the organization's work and has "personally supported its mission." But she also noted that it's a private nonprofit that raises $100 million a year on its own. Ultimately, she argued, her agency can't afford to continue backing it.

"There are dozens of worthy nonprofits that support students and adults with disabilities that don't get a dime of federal grant money," she said. "Given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations."

Special Olympics Chairman Tim Shriver on Wednesday pushed back against the proposed cut.

"This is not the old Special Olympics, it's not my mom's Special Olympics in some ways," he said on MSNBC. "This is a new Special Olympics. We are actively engaged in the educational purposes that the country has articulated at the federal level."

In a statement posted Wednesday night on its website, the organization called on "federal, state and local governments to join Special Olympics in remaining vigilant against any erosion of provisions that have made a substantial difference in the lives of people with (intellectual disabilities)."

The statement added, "U.S. Government funding for our education programming is critical to protecting and increasing access to services for people with intellectual disabilities."

The Trump administration tried to eliminate Special Olympics funding in its previous budget proposal, too, but Congress ultimately increased funding for the group. Lawmakers indicated that the latest attempt will also fail.

"Our Department of Education appropriations bill will not cut funding for the program," said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., chairman of the Senate subcommittee over the education budget. Blunt said he's a "longtime supporter" of the group and recently attended its World Games.

DeVos is expected to present her budget to Blunt's panel Thursday, just days after being grilled over it in the House. Democrats on a House subcommittee asked DeVos how she could cut Special Olympics funding while calling for a $60 million increase in charter school funding.

"Once again, I still can't understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget. You've zeroed that out. It's appalling," Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said at the hearing.

DeVos told the panel that her department "had to make some difficult decisions," adding that the Special Olympics is best supported by philanthropy.

Following the hearing, Twitter was alight with comments from parents, advocates and celebrities who slammed DeVos and urged her to rethink the proposal.

Joe Haden, who plays for the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers and works as an ambassador for the Special Olympics, said he was sickened by the cut. "This is so wrong on so many Levels!" he said on Twitter.

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, called the proposal outrageous. Kasich, who also represented Ohio in the U.S. House, said that when he was on the budget committee, "these types of programs were off limits — for good reason."

Others opposing DeVos included Julie Foudy , former captain of the U.S. women's soccer team, and actress Marlee Matlin , who said the benefits of the Special Olympics are "immeasurable."

Some Special Olympics athletes joined in to support the group, including Derek "Tank" Schottle, who posted a video that had been viewed more than 140,000 times by Wednesday.

"Win or lose, we're all winners in our hearts," he said. "What warms peoples' hearts is we're all humans, just like everybody else."

The Special Olympics' 2017 annual report, the latest available on its website, says the group received a total of $148 million in revenue that year, including $15.5 million from federal grants.

More than three quarters of the group's revenue comes from individual and corporate contributions and other fundraising efforts.

DeVos' budget places the Special Olympics funding among 29 programs up for elimination in 2020, arguing that they have achieved their purpose or that they are ineffective, don't meet national needs or are better funded from other sources.

The proposal separately calls for $13.2 billion in federal grants awarded to states for special education, the same amount that was given this year.

In her statement, DeVos said it was "shameful" that the media and members of Congress "spun up falsehoods and fully misrepresented the facts." She drew attention to the $13.2 billion in state grants, along with an additional $226 million for grants supporting teacher training and research to help students with disabilities.

"Make no mistake," she added, "we are focused every day on raising expectations and improving outcomes for infants and toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, and are committed to confronting and addressing anything that stands in the way of their success."

This isn't the first time DeVos has run afoul of disability rights advocates.

Some were stunned by a 2017 Senate hearing in which DeVos, while being questioned about a federal law supporting students with disabilities, said it was "a matter that is best left to the states." When asked if she was familiar with the federal law, she said she "may have confused it."

DeVos again roiled advocates last December when she rescinded Obama-era guidance meant to protect racial minorities and students with disabilities from unwarranted discipline. In making the decision, DeVos said discipline decisions should be left to teachers and schools.

Source: NewsMax America

Amid a 2020 proposed budget cut for the special olympics brought forward by Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., is taking a bow for reminding her 270,000 kids are seeing their support taken away.

"In @BetsyDeVosED's budget, there are major cuts to programs like the Special Olympics," Rep. Pocan tweeted Monday. "Sec. DeVos didn't know the number of kids who would be hurt by that cut, so I made sure she now knows that 272,000 kids are seeing their support taken away."

Secretary DeVos is widely being criticized for the proposed zeroing out of federal funding for the special olympics, to which she called "difficult decisions."

"Mr. Pocan, let me just say again, we had to make some difficult decisions with this budget," DeVos said during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Monday. "I don't know the number of kids."

Rep. Pocan interrupted her to remind her it was 270,000 kids.

"Let me just say that the Special Olympics is an awesome organization – one that is well supported by the philanthropic sector as well," DeVos replied.

Pocan continued to attack the secretary on a proposed 26-percent cut to special education grants to states, among other cuts, asking "what is it where we have a problem with have with kids in special education. Why are we cutting all of thems programs over and over within this budget?"

DeVos' response was the budget has retained the funding levels for special education programs like IDEA in an overall budget than trims 10 percent. Pocan got testy over her pivoting off the specific programs he had mentioned.

"Supporting students with special needs, we have continued to hold that funding at a level amount in the context of a budget proposal that is a 10 percent reduction," DeVos said.

Pocan then finished with a rebuke of the cuts amid to a 15.6 percent increase in executive salary of appropriation.

Source: NewsMax Politics

It’s no secret that President Trump can be brash about women. He described porn star Stormy Daniels as a “Horseface,” and mocked Rosie O’Donnell as a fat pig and “total loser.”

Trump also fessed up to “locker room talk” about how he likes to “grab them by the pussy.”

But the president’s actions speak much louder than his words.

Despite a few crude comments, Trump put more women in top advisory roles in his administration than any of the last three presidents, a powerful statement some believe is overshadowed by the media’s relentless focus on vilifying the president’s every move.

“I don’t think it’s gotten as much attention as the fact that he’s said things that are sexist,” Augusta University professor Mary-Kate Lizotte, an expert on women in politics, told The Washington Examiner. “It might not have as much of an effect because of negative coverage.”

The Examiner reports:

At the beginning of the third year of his first term as president, Trump has seven female top advisers, as compared to five for Obama, three for Bush, and five for Clinton at that point. He had eight as of December 2018, when United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley departed the administration.

The top advisers are White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway; CIA Director Gina Haspel, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, senior adviser Ivanka Trump, Director of Legislative Affairs Shahira Knight, and Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry gave a statement on the current power of corporations and what may lie ahead for Big Tech. Gerald Celente joins Alex to discuss solutions as America wakes up to Big Tech tyranny.

Those in Trump’s inner circle are only some of the women that have served in the administration, with others including Haley and former communications director Hope Hicks playing key roles early on.

Last May, the president appointed Gina Haspel as the head of the CIA, the first woman to ever hold that post, Fox News reports.

There’s also women serving in important cabinet positions, such as Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, as well as women moving up through the ranks.

“Trump reportedly will also nominate more women to powerful positions soon, such as U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft for U.N. ambassador and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu for associate attorney general, a key post currently held by Rod Rosenstein,” according to the Examiner.

Schlapp said it’s obvious Trump “surrounds himself with very strong women with strong voices” and he respects their opinions on all types of issues.

An unnamed former senior White House official contends the president cares more about results than gender.

“He treats people equally,” the official said. “He values merit and quality of work, regardless of any other attributes including gender.”

Schlapp dismissed the relentless allegations Trump is a misogynist as “outrageous.”

“I have always felt respected by the president,” she said. “He is someone who values my opinion and insight. Those of us who work with him get to see his compassion.”

Despite the progress for women, some of the president’s critics remain devoted to spinning the issue into a negative and allege Trump’s female advisors are nothing more than “tools for his benefit.”

Boston University professor Tammy Vigil, a self-professed expert on gender in politics, told the Examiner it belittles women to work for the president because they’re allegedly forced to “work around the truth.”

“It compromises their integrity,” she said. “They have to sort of give up their own honesty and integrity in order to serve the male president, which is not a good look for women, even if they are in positions of power.”

“Why is he hiring these women?” she questioned. “He’s getting something out of it.”

Source: InfoWars

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday requiring U.S. colleges to protect free speech on their campuses or risk losing federal research funding.

The new order directs federal agencies to ensure that any college or university receiving research grants agrees to promote free inquiry and to follow federal rules and regulations supporting free speech.

"Even as universities have received billions and billions of dollars from taxpayers, many have become increasingly hostile to free speech and to the First Amendment," Trump said at a White House signing ceremony. "These universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans."

The order follows a growing chorus of complaints from conservatives who say their voices have been stifled on campuses across the U.S. Joining Trump at the ceremony were students who said they were challenged by their schools while trying to express views against abortion or in support of their faith.

Trump initially proposed the idea during a March 2 speech to conservative activists, highlighting the case of Hayden Williams, an activist who was punched in the face while recruiting for the group Turning Point USA at the University of California, Berkeley. He invoked the case again Thursday, noting that Williams was hit hard "but he didn't go down."

Under the order, colleges would need to agree to protect free speech in order to tap into more than $35 billion a year in research and educational grants.

For public universities, that means vowing to uphold the First Amendment, which they're already required to do. Private universities, which have more flexibility in limiting speech, will be required to commit to their own institutional rules.

"We will not stand idly by to allow public institutions to violate their students' constitutional rights," Trump said. "If a college or university doesn't allow you to speak, we will not give them money. It's very simple."

Enforcement of the order will be left to federal agencies that award grants, but how schools will be monitored and what types of violations could trigger a loss of funding have yet to be seen. White House officials said details about the implementation will be finalized in coming months.

Many colleges have firmly opposed the need for an executive order. Following Trump's speech, Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California, said many schools are "ground zero" for the exchange of ideas.

"We do not need the federal government to mandate what already exists: our longstanding, unequivocal support for freedom of expression," she said. "This executive order will only muddle policies surrounding free speech, while doing nothing to further the aim of the First Amendment."

The American Council on Education, which represents more than 1,700 college presidents, called the order "a solution in search of a problem."

"No matter how this order is implemented, it is neither needed nor desirable, and could lead to unwanted federal micromanagement of the cutting-edge research that is critical to our nation's continued vitality and global leadership," said Ted Mitchell, the organization's president.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has spoken against a government answer to campus speech issues, issued a statement that only briefly mentioned free speech, and instead largely focused on another part of the order dealing with transparency in college performance data.

Her statement said students "should be empowered to pursue truth through the free exchange of all ideas, especially ideas with which they may not agree. Free inquiry is an essential feature of our democracy, and I applaud the president's continued support for America's students."

The order was supported by conservative groups including Turning Point USA, which has pushed for action on the issue. In Trump's speech, he specifically thanked Charlie Kirk, the group's founder, who has pushed for action on the issue. On Twitter, Kirk called the order "historic," adding that while harassment by campus faculty is not uncommon, "it ends today!"

Several free speech groups opposed the order, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which took issue with "the partisan nature of the administration's rollout of this executive order."

The top Republican on the Senate education committee, Sen. Lamar Alexander, said he supports the push for free speech but raised concerns about Trump's approach.

"I don't want to see Congress or the president or the department of anything creating speech codes to define what you can say on campus," said Alexander, R-Tenn. "The U.S. Constitution guarantees free speech. Federal courts define and enforce it. The Department of Justice can weigh in."

Debate over campus free speech has flared in recent years following a string of high-profile cases in which protesters shut down or heckled conservative speakers, including at UC Berkeley and Middlebury College in Vermont. Republicans called hearings on the issue when they controlled both chambers, but proposed legislation backing campus speech never made it through committee.

Some colleges leaders have said they worry the order could backfire. If a speaking event threatens to turn violent, for example, some say they might have to choose between canceling the event for safety and allowing it to continue to preserve federal funding. Some say it could force religious universities to host speakers with views that conflict with the universities' values.

Still, the order has gained support from some religious institutions including Liberty University, a Christian school in Virginia whose leaders say they denounce censorship of either the left or right.

Separate from the free speech requirement, the order also calls for several measures meant to promote transparency in the student loan industry and in how well colleges prepare students.

By January 2020, Trump is directing the Education Department to create a website where borrowers can find better information about their loans and repayment options, and he's calling on the agency to expand its College Scorecard website to include data on the graduates of individual college programs, including their median earnings, loan debt and their default rates.

Trump, a Republican, also is asking the Education Department to prepare a policy that would make sure colleges "share the financial risk" that students and the federal government take on with federal student loans.

Follow Collin Binkley on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cbinkley

Source: NewsMax America

The Department of Education said this week it will allow religious organizations to receive public funds for equitable services, reversing an earlier practice.

The move was in response to a 2017 Supreme Court decision that ruled Missouri was wrong to deny a church-funded preschool a grant to purchase recycled tires that would be used for the school's playground. The court said Missouri's denial was unconstitutional.

"The Trinity Lutheran decision reaffirmed the long-understood intent of the First Amendment to not restrict the free exercise of religion," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. "Those seeking to provide high-quality educational services to students and teachers should not be discriminated against simply based on the religious character of their organization."

DeVos sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the department's decision, citing the Supreme Court ruling.

"Permitting religious organizations and secular organizations alike to provide secular services to schools does not violate the Establishment Clause, and absent specific language to the contrary . . . the Department generally considers faith-based organizations to be eligible to contract with grantees and subgrantees and to apply for and receive Department grants on the same basis as any other private organization," DeVos wrote.

Source: NewsMax America


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