New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday said he'll order the state to immediately provide free college tuition to families of military service members killed anywhere in the line of duty.
Cuomo's executive order would bypass the state Legislature, ending a weeklong controversy that attracted national attention.
Assembly Democrats last week blocked a bill in the Higher Education Committee that would have changed a state scholarship program for Gold Star families.
The existing MERIT scholarship program provides tuition aid to family members only if the service member was killed or disabled in a combat zone or while training to enter a combat zone.
Cuomo's order would make free SUNY tuition or its equivalent available if the service member is killed or disabled anywhere in the U.S. or overseas while performing official duties.
"Military service is more than just the active military member," Cuomo said in his announcement. "I believe the entire family is in service, and we will honor that sacrifice and respect that service not just in words, not just with symbols, but with deeds."
Assembly Democrats had defended their move to block the GOP-backed bill because its costs had not been determined and it came up after approval of the state budget.
Veterans organizations and President Donald Trump were among those who criticized the Assembly committee vote.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, welcomed Cuomo's order Wednesday and said it caps off an 11-year effort by Republicans to make the changes proposed in the bill.
Kolb called Cuomo's announcement "a victory for all of New York's courageous veterans and the end of a long, but worthwhile, fight."
Cuomo's announcement came as Kolb and Republicans had appealed to the public to sign an online petition in support of the bill.
In a scathing letter, a top Navy legal official on Sunday expressed "grave ethical concerns" over revelations that government prosecutors used tracking software in emails to defense lawyers in ongoing cases involving two Navy SEALs in San Diego.
The letter, written by David G. Wilson, Chief of Staff of the Navy's Defense Service Offices, requested a response by Tuesday from the Chief of the Navy's regional law offices detailing exactly what type of software was used and what it could do, who authorized it, and what controls were put in place to limit its spread on government networks.
"As our clients learn about these extraordinary events in the media, we are left unarmed with any facts to answer their understandable concerns about our ability to secure the information they must trust us to maintain. This situation has become untenable," Wilson wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Task & Purpose on Monday.
Riley Howell, the Army ROTC cadet shot and killed while restraining an active shooter at UNC Charlotte on April 30, was posthumously awarded the ROTC Medal of Heroism earlier this month for his heroic sacrifice, the Army announced.
The head of naval aviation has directed the creation of a new process for approving and reviewing pilots' call signs after two African-American aviators at an F/A-18 Hornet training squadron in Virginia filed complaints alleging racial bias in the unit, from which they said they were unfairly dismissed.
In a formal endorsement letter signed May 13, Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, commander of Naval Air Forces, said he found the two aviators, a Navy lieutenant and a Marine Corps captain, were correctly removed from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 out of Naval Air Station Oceana due to "substandard performance," despite errors and inconsistencies discovered in the grading and ranking process.
However, Miller said he did find inappropriate conduct by instructor pilots who did not treat the pilots-in-training "with appropriate dignity and respect," using discriminatory call signs and having inappropriate and unprofessional discussions about them on social media.