Democratic Sen. John Brooks on Monday announced the introduction of a bill that would expand a program for tuition aid to Gold Star families in New York.

“Our heroic servicemembers who fall in the line of duty and make the ultimate sacrifice to protect our nation are owed a debt of gratitude that can never truly be repaid,” Senator John E. Brooks said. “That is why I am proud to sponsor legislation that will ensure their children are provided free tuition for all SUNY and CUNY schools. I will continue to work with my colleagues in State government to have this important legislation passed into law.”

The bill was introduced days after Republicans in the state Assembly sought to force a similar measure in the chamber’s Higher Education Committee, which was blocked. The issue caught the attention of national outlets and led to a tweet from President Donald Trump.

A program covering tuition expenses for Gold Star families who lose a loved one while in combat or in preparation for combat, called MERIT, currently exists in New York for in-state tuition at public colleges and universities.

Brooks’s legislation would expand the program to include families members of military personnel who have died as a result of their official duties, have become permanently disabled or are classified as missing in action.

Assembly Democrats in recent days have also said they would be supportive of expanding the program.

The measure has the backing of Gene Ratigliano, the state commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“The Veterans of Foreign Wars is very grateful to Senator Brooks for the support of this bill to provide educational benefits to the family survivors of our fallen comrades who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedoms,” Ratigliano said in a statement.

“This bill is especially important for those young military members who have young families and are usually at the lower end of the pay scale thus providing their survivors the opportunity to seek college educational opportunities they would otherwise be unable to secure. Passage of this bill will not only open the doors to educational opportunities for the military survivors but make those utilizing these benefits be better citizens enabling them to also better their communities in which they live.”