US Representative Joe Kennedy III on Tuesday vowed to prevent the Trump administration from gutting federal funding for the Special Olympics — a proposal that drew ire from Democrats after it was floated before members of Congress this week.
“This will never happen. Full stop,” Kennedy tweeted late Tuesday night. “But the mere suggestion illustrates how little this Administration values the Americans and families they pledge to serve.”
Kennedy’s remarks came in a response to a tweet from CNBC’s John Hardwood, which noted that Betsy DeVos, Trump’s education secretary, had proposed deep cuts to education funding — including the elimination of federal funding for the Special Olympics — during a hearing with members of a House subcommittee Tuesday.
The proposed $17.6 million in cuts to Special Olympics funding are part of a larger budget proposal to eliminate billions of dollars to education programs, according to the Washington Post.
“We had to make some difficult decisions with this budget,” DeVos said during the hearing.
While the proposal faces an uphill battle, lawmakers still criticized the idea of the Special Olympics losing support.
“This is part of [DeVos’s] policy agenda: cuts over kids,” Massachusetts Congresswoman Katherine Clark tweeted Tuesday.
As for the response from Kennedy, it may have struck harder given his family’s strong ties to the organization’s work.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Kennedy’s great aunt and the sister of President John F. Kennedy, founded the Special Olympics, which hosted its inaugural event in the summer of 1968 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Shriver, who died in 2009, has been hailed for her work to bring the games to fruition, and called “a pioneer in the worldwide struggle for rights and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities,” according to the organization’s website.
Kennedy has said in the past that he was “raised in a family [with a] very personal [commitment] to helping those [with] disabilities,” a stance that was apparent in his response to DeVos’s proposal.