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Education Department Cannot Elaborate on Trump’s Donation

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Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (left) accepts a check from the White House. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (left) accepts a check from the White House. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The Education Department could offer few details on President Trump’s donation to the agency after Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the gift on Wednesday, saying only it would be going toward a camp.

DeVos briefly discussed Trump’s donation of his second quarter salary at a White House press briefing, explaining the $100,000 check would go toward a camp focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A spokesperson for the department declined to elaborate when asked for more details on the camp, whether it was a new program, if it would receive other funds and the mechanism by which Trump was making the contribution.

The announcement follows a $78,000 donation the president made with his first three months of salary to the National Park Service, which went toward restorations to the Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland.

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“Today's and tomorrow's economy requires students prepared for STEM careers,” DeVos said Wednesday. “That's why we've decided to use the President's second-quarter salary to host a STEM-focused camp for students at the Department of Education. We want to encourage as many children as possible to explore STEM fields in the hope that many develop a passion for these fields.”

She added the department looks forward to the “exciting endeavor” and thanked the president for his “generous gift.”

In his budget for fiscal 2018, Trump proposed cutting more than $9 billion from Education’s appropriations, a 13 percent reduction. The House Appropriations Committee approved a bill last week that would cut the department’s funding by $2.5 billion, or 3.5 percent. Detractors of Trump’s proposal noted the blueprint would cut programs aimed at boosting STEM education, such as the 21st Century Community Learning Centers.

Trump has vowed to donate his entire salary throughout his tenure as president.

Eric Katz writes about federal agency operations and management. His deep coverage of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Postal Service has earned him frequent guest spots on national radio and television news programs. Eric joined Government Executive in the summer of 2012 and previously worked for The Financial Times. He is a graduate of The George Washington University.

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