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Demand Surges for DeVos to Cancel 'Unconscionable' Plan to Cut Special Olympics Funding

"To take money away from the Special Olympics at the same time that Betsy DeVos has a 15 percent increase in executive [salaries] in her budget makes no sense whatsoever."

The flag of the Special Olympics raised as players attend the Opening Ceremony of the 2013 Pyeongchang Special Olympics World Winter Games at the Yongpyeong stadium on January 29, 2013 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Twenty-four hours after Education Secretary Betsy Devos defended cutting $18 million from the Special Olympics program—while spending more than three times that on expanding charter schools and increasing salaries for department executivesit is quite clear that people are not happy about it.

After Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), demanded to know how DeVos justified slashing funds for the program, which serves athletes with disabilities, while also requesting a 15.6 percent increase in executive salary increases at her department, the congressman circulated a petition officially denouncing the move.

"The Trump administration seems to have no problem spending taxpayer money on the president's regular trips to golf and fly to Florida for weekends...But when it comes to our children's education, health, and well-being, we're supposed to believe they can't continue to fund some of the most popular programs in our nation?" —Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.)"The Trump administration seems to have no problem spending taxpayer money on the president's regular trips to golf and fly to Florida for weekends," wrote Pocan to supporters. "They seem to have no problem spending federal money to lock up children who have been separated from their parents. They seem to have no problem funding endless wars around the world."

"But when it comes to our children's education, health, and well-being, we're supposed to believe they can't continue to fund some of the most popular programs in our nation?"

As of this writing—and within an hour of being sent to supporters—the petition had gathered more than 25,000 signatures from people wanting to "tell the Department of Education not to cut funding for vital programs and commit to using public funding to help children who are counting on all of us to look out for them."

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Pocan appeared on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" to discuss the Trump administration's budget, which also includes cuts to special education grants for states and funding for schools that serve blind and hearing-impaired Americans—while calling for $60 million in funding for charter schools.

"It is just unconscionable," Pocan said. "To take money away from the Special Olympics at the same time that Betsy DeVos has a 15 percent increase in executive [salaries] in her budget makes no sense whatsoever....This shouldn't be a partisan issue."

"You've got to remember the Trump budget has cuts to Social Security, to Medicaid, to the National Institute of Health where we find cures for diseases, and then programs like Special Olympics," he added. "So it's really an indication of a much bigger problem that we have with the president's budget."

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