The Latest: DeVos defends cutting Special Olympics funding

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Education Department funding for the Special Olympics (all times local):

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1:15 p.m.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is defending her proposal to eliminate funding to the Special Olympics.

DeVos said Wednesday that she “loves” the Special Olympics’ work but argues “the federal government cannot fund every worthy program.”

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Her statement followed a social media storm stirred by athletes and celebrities who attacked her proposal and rallied for the group. Among those who spoke out were pro football player Joe Haden and Julie Foudy, former captain of the U.S. women’s soccer team.

The Education Department gave $17.6 million to the Special Olympics this year but proposed cutting that funding among $7 billion in reductions.

DeVos said the organization raises $100 million on its own every year, adding that her budget would fund other special education grants at the same levels as this year.

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11:25 a.m.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is facing sharp pushback over a proposal to cut federal funding to the Special Olympics.

Celebrities, politicians and activists have taken to social media to rebuke DeVos for her plan to cut funding for the group as part of $7 billion in reductions in 2020. The organization received $17.6 million from the Education Department this year, but DeVos says it should be supported through philanthropy.

House Democrats grilled DeVos in a budget hearing Tuesday, with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., calling the cut “appalling.”

Others calling on DeVos to rethink the decision include former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, and Julie Foudy, former captain of the U.S. women’s soccer team.

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A department spokeswoman says DeVos supports the organization and has donated to it in the past.

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