The two people said department officials have tried for three years to include the Special Olympics funding in its budget request. The OMB and its director, Mick Mulvaney (who is now also the acting White House chief of staff), required that the Education Department submit a budget that fit under a cap that would allow the administration to say its overall proposal would balance. This year, the cap amounted to a 10% reduction in education’s budget.

According to the education official, the department submitted a request to OMB that came underneath the cap while also maintaining the Special Olympics funding. The official said the White House sent back a revision that removed the funding. Education continued to submit proposals that kept the $18 million for Special Olympics and remained under the cap, but each time, said the official, OMB struck the line item from the request.