Queens medical student to attend Biden’s State of the Union as Meng’s guest, highlighting internet access program

Briteny Xu and Rep. Grace Meng
Photos courtesy of Grace Meng’s office

In an effort to spotlight the importance of low-cost internet access, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng announced that Briteny Xu, a local medical student who benefits from the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), will join her for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Thursday night.

The ACP, a federal initiative Meng helped enact in 2021, offers low-income residents a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service. With the program’s funding set to run out as soon as April, Meng’s invitation to Xu underscores the urgent need to preserve the service.

Xu, who is studying osteopathic medicine at the New York Institute of Technology, relies on the ACP for affordable internet access, which is vital for her education. She, along with her grandparents, who reside in the same dwelling, depend on this subsidized service for their online needs.

A Queens native, 24-year-old Xu’s story represents the vital role ACP plays in the lives of over 22.5 million households nationwide, including veterans, seniors, and students like herself. In Meng’s Queens district alone, the program saves approximately $27.4 million annually for over 62,000 households.

“I am committed to increasing internet access for everyone in Queens and beyond, a need that became all too clear during the pandemic,” said Meng. “The ACP has been a lifeline for millions, and having Briteny at the State of the Union will highlight the program’s critical role and the dire need for its continuation.”

Xu expressed gratitude to Meng for her leadership and for the opportunity to attend the State of the Union, emphasizing the importance of the ACP to her family’s ability to access reliable Wi-Fi.

However, with the ACP no longer accepting new applications and current beneficiaries receiving notices about the program’s impending conclusion, Meng is actively working to secure additional funding. She has co-sponsored the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act, proposing $7 billion to sustain the ACP, now pending in the House Appropriations Committee.

The State of the Union address, scheduled for 9 p.m. this Thursday, will see Biden outline his priorities and report on the nation’s status before Congress.