From left, Shalanda Young, the first Black woman to lead the Office of Management and Budget; Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine; Senate Appropriations Committee chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.; House Appropriations Committee ranking member Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.; and House Appropriations chair Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, speak during an interview with The Associated Press at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. It's the first time in history that the four leaders of the two congressional spending committees are women. Credit: Manuel Balce Cenetta / AP

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Susan M. Collins represents Maine in the U.S. Senate.

The Appropriations Committee is one of the oldest and most powerful committees in the U.S. Senate. It decides the funding for virtually every agency and program in the federal government, except for entitlement programs like Social Security. The committee makes decisions on how much money should be allocated for everything from national defense to biomedical research.  

Maine has played a special role in the history of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Our state has produced four Senate Appropriations chairmen – no other state has had more than two. The committee’s very first chairman, Sen. Lot Morrill, was a native of Belgrade. Until this year, the last Mainer to hold a leadership position on the Appropriations Committee was Sen. Frederick Hale, who retired just prior to World War II.

In the new 118th Congress, I am honored to break this more than eight-decade-long drought by serving as vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

History is being made in the 118th Congress. For the first time ever, the four Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees are all women. I have good working relationships with my counterparts — Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Kay Granger and Rosa DeLauro — and I am optimistic that our collaborative approach will serve our nation well.

I begin my leadership role with five overarching priorities. First, Congress should avoid passing a gigantic end-of-the-year, last-minute package that combines all 12 appropriations bills. Moving appropriations bills through the Senate Appropriations Committee and across the Senate floor so that they are considered in a transparent manner is a better way to legislate. Our goal is for Congress to pass as many bills as possible on time rather than relying on continuing resolutions that lock in the priorities for the previous fiscal year, wasting taxpayer money and making it difficult for agencies to plan.  

Second, we must modernize our military so it can defend our nation and confront rising threats around the globe. It is especially troubling that our Navy fleet continues to shrink relative to China’s. In addition to serving as vice chairman of the full Appropriations Committee, I will also serve as the top Republican on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. In that role, I will work to ensure that the highly skilled employees at Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard have the resources they need to build and maintain our Naval fleet. From DFAS Limestone to Naval Support Activity Cutler to Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick to the National Guard installation in Bangor, Mainers across our state make outsized contributions to our national security.  

Third, there is no investment we can make that provides greater returns for Americans than our investment in lifesaving biomedical research. Our Appropriations Committee has made tremendous progress by increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health by $17.4 billion, or 58 percent, since 2015, and I will seek to build on this progress, with a particular focus on Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

Fourth, we must continue to invest in America’s transportation network. Since joining the Appropriations Committee in 2009, I have worked to secure nearly $1 billion in competitive transportation grants for Maine, and I was among the 10 senators who negotiated the bipartisan infrastructure law, the most significant investment in American infrastructure since the establishment of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s. Particularly important is the expansion of broadband access to rural Americans.

Finally, we must invest in rural America. The agriculture, forest products, and fishing industries are part of the fabric of countless rural communities across the country and drive local economies. I have always worked to strengthen these industries, whether it be securing funding for research that can help yield more disease-resistant potatoes and blueberry crops or supporting efforts to find innovative uses for wood products.

Improving local infrastructure and access to services is also essential to the wellbeing of residents and helps to promote thriving communities. In the most recent government appropriations package, I secured funding to rebuild fire, police, and EMS stations as well as municipal offices in 27 Maine towns. I also secured funding for water and wastewater projects in 21 communities that will help Mainers continue to have access to clean, safe drinking water while expanding capacity for business and residential growth.


As a member of the Appropriations Committee since 2009, I have long supported Maine communities. In the year-end funding bill that was signed into law in December, I successfully sponsored 180 projects totaling more than $308 million from Aroostook County to York County that will promote job creation, workforce training, and economic development; expand access to health care; improve public safety, infrastructure, and community resources; and protect our environment. As vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I am honored to renew Maine’s proud tradition at the helm of this committee, and I will work to ensure that federal spending produces real results for the people of Maine and across America.