Joe Kennedy III: Cuts to Special Olympics 'will never happen'

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) said Thursday that the Trump administration's proposed budget cuts to the Special Olympics "will never happen."

“This will never happen because of the work the Special Olympics does. Because of the impacts on our communities. Because of the athletes it serves. Because of the communities, the students, the coaches that come around and embrace those athletes. And what it then gives back to our communities," he said during an interview on CNN's "New Day."

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Kennedy, whose great aunt Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics, added that he has "no idea" why the administration would attempt to make the cuts, calling it "cruel" and "outrageous."

“To say that you don’t have the money for Special Olympics or autism funding, it’s cruel, it's misguided and it’s outrageous," he said.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has faced intense criticism since revealing during a hearing before a House subcommittee this week that the department proposed cutting nearly $18 million in federal funding to the Special Olympics.

DeVos has defended the proposed cuts, saying in a statement Wednesday that though she supports the Special Olympics, the federal government can't "fund every worthy program."

“Given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations," she said. 

However, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that determines Department of Education funding levels, said Wednesday that the proposed cuts to the Special Olympics will not be approved.

"I’m a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics and proud that Missouri is home to the largest Special Olympics training facility in the world," he said in a statement.

"I was just at the World Games and saw, as I have many times before, what a huge impact the organization has on athletes, their families, and their communities. Our Department of Education appropriations bill will not cut funding for the program," Blunt added.