Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) let Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have it during the second day of Appropriation Committee hearings dealing with the budget cuts coming out of President Donald Trump's administration. However, his questions revealed that the Trump White House was behind the cuts to the Special Olympics.
During the questioning Thursday morning, Durbin asked DeVos about her $18 million cuts to the Special Olympics and even more substantial cuts to special needs programs around the country.
"Madam Secretary, there's been some press reports about your testimony yesterday related to the Special Olympics," Durbin began. "Did you personally approve the elimination of the $18 million from your budget to help the Special Olympics?"
"Well, Senator, as you know, [the] budget process within the administration is a collaborative one and it's been my responsibility to present the budget here on behalf of the administration, the president's budget. As I said then, and I'll say again, this -- we had to make tough choices around the budget priorities and we elected to hold harmless Title I and IDEA funding and funding for English language learners, knowing that that's really going to reach the greatest number of students."
Durbin interrupted to ask his question again, if she was the one who personally approved the significant cuts to special education.
"I think a yes or no will do," Durbin said.
"No, I didn't personally get involved in that," DeVos admitted. It poses the question who was responsible for the Trump budget for the departments and if it was the Education Department or someone at the White House who chose to force special ed students to search for private alternatives.
"Whoever came up with that idea at OMB gets a Special Olympic medal for insensitivity," Durbin blasted.
Durbin suggested that if the department wants to save money that they can give to the special ed programs they could bar student loans for those attending for-profit colleges. He noted that those students are significantly more likely to default on their loans than at legitimate higher education institutions.
DeVos then attacked Durbin, saying he was twisting the news about the cuts to fit his own agenda.
"Let's not used disabled children in a twisted way for your political narrative, umm, that is just disgusting and it's shameful," she said with self-righteous indignation.
Trump celebrated Down Syndrome Day this week with guests at the White House.
Today we celebrate the lives and achievements of Americans with Down Syndrome. @VP and I will always stand with the… https://t.co/aJLGHdhcH3— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1553202725.0
You can watch a short clip as well as the full hearing below and see the complete exchange between DeVos and Durbin here or at the 49-minute mark.